Beef and Pork Leg Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Gio Heo)

  • Preparation: 30 mins
  • Cooking: 30 mins
  • Skill level: Medium
  • Servings: 4

Description Beef and Pork Leg Noodle Soup (Bún Bò Giò Heo)

At home we know this dish as Beef and Pork Leg Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Gio Heo), but it’s a confusing name for the non-expert. The literal meaning of Bun bo is ‘noodles with beef’. There are more Vietnamese dishes with the basic ingredients noodles and beef and are called ‘Bun bo’, such as Bun bo xao xa or Bun bo Hue. The broth of Bun bo gio heo is from beef and pork, and therefore, the addition ‘Gio heo’ in the name gives it a more complete picture of the dish. ‘Gio heo’ means pig feet or gammon, at least large pieces of pork with enough fat on it.
Beef and Pork Leg Noodle Soup (Bún Bò Giò Heo) consists of many braised meat, a mix of fresh vegetables and herbs with the spiciness of onion sambal. If I am hungry I can really long for this dish. Then I think of the braisde meat and fragrant herbs with the salty and tangy flavor of onion sambal. Vietnamese mint and coriander Rau ram (slightly spicy) I find the most delicious herbs to go with Bun bo gio heo. My mother always wants to please everyone and cook this dish with both small and large rice noodles to choose from.


  • 8 cups (2 liters) water, with 1 teaspoon salt added
  • 1 lb (500 g) beef brisket
  • 7 oz (200 g) boneless pork leg, cubed
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thick bottom part only, outer layers discarded, inner part bruised
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried shrimp paste or belachan, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/100 g) thinly sliced shallots (about 12 shallots)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thick bottom part only, outer layers discarded, inner part minced
  • 2 finger-length red chilies, deseeded and minced
  • 4 tablespoons minced saw-leaf herb leaves (ngo gai)
  • 8 oz (250 g) dried string-like rice noodles (bun)
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) minced banana blossom
  • 2 spring onions, sliced, to garnish
  • Sprigs of coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish
  • 1/2 cup (25 g) bean sprouts, to serve
  • 4 tablespoons minced mint leaves, to serve
  • Lime wedges, to serve

Method Beef and Pork Leg Noodle Soup (Bún Bò Giò Heo)

1, In a stockpot. bring the salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the beef, pork and lemongrass. Reduce heat to medium and simmer half covered for about 11/2 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove and discard the lemongrass. Remove the beef and set aside to cool. Season the stock with the shrimp paste, salt and pepper and continue to simmer over very low heat.
2, When the beef is cool enough to handle, cut into cubes and set aside
3, Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Stir-fry the annatto seeds until the oil turns reddish. Remove from the heat, strain the oil and discard the seeds. Reheat the oil over medium heat and stir-fry the shallots until fragrant and transparent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass and 1/2 of the chilies, and continue to stir-fry for 1 to 2 more minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the mixture and 3 tablespoons of the saw-leaf herb leaves to the hot soup and stir to mix well.
4, Bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Boil the rice noodles until soft, 5 to 7 minutes or longer as needed. Remove and rinse with cold water, then drain. Transfer the noodles to individual serving bowls and top with the beef cubes, the remaining saw-leaf herb leaves and minced banana blossom. Pour the hot soup into each bowl, garnish with spring onion and coriander leaves (cilantro), and serve hot with bean sprouts, mint leaves, the remaining chili and lime wedges.

Chef's Note

Beef and Pork Leg Noodle Soup (Bún Bò Giò Heo) is an important part of the Vietnamese diet, often featured as a hearty main course or served in combination with a series of other dishes.

Soup can be served throughout the day or frozen and stored for use at another time, so recipes often call for large amounts of ingredients to make a large portion of soup at one time

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