Update January 2021: This recipe has been updated with new photos, improved flavor, and tips, as I thought this soup was not getting the love it deserved.
One of my favorite Vietnamese dish: Bún Bò Huế! This noodle soup is not as famous as Phở and I really wonder why, because it's insanely good!
Thick round noodles are served in a vibrant, spicy and flavorful broth with fried tofu, vegan beef, sautéed mushrooms, onions, and many other toppings. It's filling, delicious, and makes a complete and healthy meal!
I tried a ton of different vegan bún bò huế in Viet Nam, some were good, some just okay and one was delicious. I had to recreate my favorite version at home!
WHAT IS BÚN BÒ HUẾ
Bún bò huế is a Vietnamese noodle soup that originated from the city of Huế, the old capital of Vietnam. The authentic version consists of a rich broth infused with lemongrass, beef, salt, sugar, and a chili paste called saté. One of the unique aspect of this noodle soup is that it's served with thick round noodles (called bún). Bún is also the Vietnamese name of thinner round noodles used in many other dishes, but when talking about Bún bò huế, the noodles are always thicker.
The soup is often topped with a variety of toppings like sausage (called Chả), fresh cilantro, raw onion slices, mushrooms, banana blossom, mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, and more.
HOW TO MAKE BÚN BÒ HUẾ
Getting the broth right is one of the most important part as it's really what makes this dish. The broth itself is usually (every cook has its own way to make it) not spicy but very flavorful. The spiciness comes from the saté paste that is stirred into the broth later.
Making the broth is easy, you cut all the vegetables into thick slices, add to a pot and fill with water. Add some salt, sugar, and let it simmer for about 2 hours. I went with a mix of carrot, radish, lemongrass, mushrooms, and pineapple for a natural sweetness. This broth is actually a good base for many other Vietnamese noodle soups. For extra flavor, I recommend adding some mushroom seasoning, as well as a teaspoon of vegan fish sauce.
While the broth tastes good the first day, I found it to taste even better the next day, so feel free to prepare it ahead of time.
The secret ingredient to that deep red/orange color! Saté is a paste that consists of lemongrass, chili, garlic, and shallots that are sautéed until fragrant. The oil is first colored with anatto seeds that are fried for a couple minutes and then strained. You can find my Saté recipe here.
Once your saté is ready and while the broth is simmering, prepare the noodles and toppings:
- Noodles: I recommend using thick round rice noodles. Let them soak in cold water for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 hours to reduce cooking time.
- Vegan beef: While optional, beef slices makes this dish more "authentic". I went with Imitation Beef Slices.
- Tofu: Fried tofu is best, but you could substitute with white tofu, vegan chick'n, or your favorite plant-based meat.
- Vegan sausage: Cut into thin slices, it adds texture and protein.
- Sliced onions: Raw, for some crunch.
- Fresh herbs: Cilantro is mandatory. Thai basil adds extra flavor if you have it on hand.
- Extras: This noodle soup is also usually topped with mung bean sprouts and banana blossom. Totally optional.
- Sautéed Mushrooms: In addition of the mushrooms used in the broth, I like to sautée extra mushrooms and deglaze with soy sauce. It's just a bonus topping.
I personally like to add the vegan beef, tofu, and vegan sausage to the broth and cook for another 5 minutes, this way they get time to soak up the flavors of the broth and become super juicy, so good!
To serve, you want to add about a tablespoon of saté into each bowl before pouring in the hot broth. As opposed to some other recipes, I prefer to add the saté individually so everyone can adjust the spiciness to taste. Start with about 2 teaspoons and add more to your liking.
Add the cooked rice noodles, sautéed vegan beef slices, tofu, sausage, raw onions, and top with a ton of fresh herbs! Enjoy!
This spicy Vietnamese noodle soup is one of my favorites! The broth is so rich and spicy, with a light lemongrass aroma. It's perfectly salty, a bit sweet, quite spicy, and a bit sour if you add a squeeze of lime. The perfect combination! Plus the toppings absorb all the flavors from the broth. A must-try!
If you like noodle soups, check out this Lemongrass Soup with Fermented Tofu or this Hot & Sour Jackfruit Wonton Soup!
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Vegan Bún Bò Huế
- 10 cups water
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium daikon radish
- 1 cup chopped pineapple
- 2 lemongrass stalks slightly smashed
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon rock sugar or regular sugar
- 1 teaspoon vegan fish sauce optional
- 1 teaspoon mushroom seasonning optional
- ¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro or sawtooth coriander
- 3 tablespoon saté
- About 5 ounces dry bun noodles
- 10 pieces vegan beef slices optional
- 1 block of fried tofu cut into ½-inch slices
- ½ onion thinly sliced
- 1 piece vegan sausage cut into slices, optional
- For serving: Thai basil, cilantro, lime juice
- Peel and cut the carrot and radish into 1-inch slices. Add to a large pot with the chopped pineapple, lemongrass stalks, mushrooms, salt, sugar, and fish sauce if using. Cover with the 10 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and let simmer (on low-medium) uncovered for about 2 hours. In the meantime, if you haven't already, prepare the saté.
- If using, soak the vegan beef in water for at least 25 minutes. Then drain and squeeze to press out excess water. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and season with about ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Stir to coat.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the vegan beef and sautée for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and divide into serving bowls. Add about 1 tablespoon of saté (more or less depending on how spicy you want it) to each bowl. Pour in the hot broth and stir to dissolve the saté. Top with vegan beef slices, tofu, vegan sausage, sliced onions, a squeeze of lime, and more fresh cilantro. You can also add mung bean sprouts and/or banana blossom for extra texture. Enjoy immediately!
- The broth will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
This looks great, thank you. The TVP in your photograph appears to be in strips. I've never seen this before, nor does your link to amazon show it, does it have any other name I can search for please? It looks awesome, I really want to try it.
It is in strips because I cut it 🙂 The one I used is actually the same as the Amazon link, it comes in nugget shapes. The Vietnamese name is "Bò lát Chay", hope this helps!
I am so excited to try this recipe!!! I have mastered the vegan pho but this one is an old favorite that I haven’t tried to veganize!! Many thanks and can’t wait to hear about your travels in Vietnam!
You're welcome! Hope you will like it 🙂
I've seen you've got a French address,
Can you also write all your recipes in French with French measurements please ?
J'ai vu que vous aviez une adresse Française,
Pouvez vous écrire vos recettes en Français bec des mesures en système décimal ?
Malheuresement je n'ai pas l'intention de traduire les recettes en français pour le moment, désolé.
Wow! I'm going to be traveling to Vietnam. Do you have any suggestions for a vegan traveler there?
Go to the places with "chay" in the name, it means vegetarian. "Cơm Chay" restaurants are very popular and easy to find, they have tofu, mock meats, veggies, and many noodle soups. I had no problem eating vegan in Vietnam, just be aware there is a type of tofu that is mixed with egg.
Wow that looks amazing. I cannot wait to try this.
Wow, so impressed. I thought you was Vietnamese chef. Your dish presents exactly the soul of "Bún bò Huế chay".
Thanks Tina! 🙂
Made this a week or 2, was absolutely delicious! Thank you!
Awesome! Thanks for the rating Paige!
Your cooking is great. This look delicious and easy to make. Thanks for sharing.
What can i use instead of annatto oil as its not available in SA
Hi, thanks for a wonderful vegetarian bun bo hue recipe. As a vegetarian for 10 years, I have come to appreciate the vegetarian diet because I am much healthier than before. My skin is noticably much nicer with a natural glow and vibrant.
As for the recipe, for the broth, an addition of 2 things will make your veggie broth super sweet. They are corn and coconut juice. It is all about the broth for bun bo hue. Please try the 2 things I mentioned above next time for your all your veggie broth.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful talent. Keep up the good work.
You're welcome! Thanks for your kind words!
Here, it's the pineapple that brings sweetness. I do agree though that corn and coconut juice are also great ways to add sweetness 🙂
I am about to make this recipe and wonder if I can leave out the pineapple or use something else for sweetness?
You could use an apple instead and add just a little bit more sugar to taste.
As a Vietnam Veteran I am interested in these soups. Have a question for you. Can this be done in a Instant Pot and if so, what would the cook time be? Also, can it be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days?
I haven't tried cooking this in the Instant Pot yet, but I would try cooking for about 10-12 minutes.
Sure, you can easily store the soup for 3-4 days in the refrigerator 🙂
Hi, just wondering why you recommend soaking the vegan beef? Loved the recipe, thanks
Hi, because the vegan "beef" is a dried product, you first need to rehydrate it and rinse it.
I love this soup so much! It hit the spot and was worth the time preparing all the ingredients from scratch (sate, mushroom seasoning and sausage). Once you have those prepared ahead of time it's quite simple to prepare. My husband thought it was a huge success too (and he's Vietnamese). He commented that the sausage taste held up really well in the soup. Thanks so much for all your efforts. This one will become a staple for us for sure!
It's true there are definitely a few different preparations to make ahead 🙂 I'm glad you and your husband liked it!
Thanks for your feedback Tetyana.
I bought chilli oil from an Asian supermarket which has chilli seeds in the oil. Could this be used in place of the sate? Also can vegan oyster sauce be used in place of the fish sauce?
The recipe looks delicious! Thank you.
Chili oil is different as it rarely contains lemongrass, so while you could use it, it won't taste the same.
The same goes for vegan oyster sauce. It's not a substitute for fish sauce but will still add extra saltiness.
Ok thank you.