Bo Bun Recipe (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowl)

Bo Bun Recipe (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowl) Recipe

I have to admit that since my husband Lulu is a vegetarian, I eat way less meat than I used to. So when I have a chance to share a meal with a fellow meat eater, I make the most of it. Bò bún is one of my favorite meat dishes, and I often find myself making it when there's company. It's a one-dish meal composed of hot beef served with cold salad and noodles.

It's the perfect quick and easy meal that can be prepped in advance. Now if I could only get Lulu to eat it with me...


Yields: 6 servings

3 (8-ounce) rump steaks, thinly sliced
½ green papaya
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemongrass
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
½ cup fish sauce
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts (optional), coarsely crushed
1 (16-ounce) package fine vermicelli rice noodles (bún in Vietnamese), cooked and cooled to room temperature
2 cups lettuce, shredded
4 tablespoons rau răm (see tips), chopped
4 tablespoons Vietnamese mint, chopped
4 tablespoons Thai Basil leaves, chopped
½ English cucumber, seeded and cut into matchstick pieces
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1½ cups bean sprouts, rinsed
¼ cup củ kiệu (store-bought pickled spring onions), halved


For the ginger: Clean the ginger and peel it with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Finely chop. Set aside.

For the papaya: Peel the papaya. Shred the papaya and grind about 2 tablespoons in a mortar and pestle. Reserve the remainder in the freezer for future use.

Flavoring the beef: In a bowl, combine the ground papaya, ginger, garlic, sugar, 1½ tablespoons fish sauce, 1 teaspoon lemongrass, red chili powder and black pepper. Pat dry the beef using paper towels. Cover with the marinade. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil, chill and marinate for at least 15 minutes. Remove the beef from the refrigerator so it returns to room temperature. Sprinkle with salt on both sides.

Cooking the beef: In the same wok, increase the heat. The oil should be really hot, almost to the smoking point. Using tongs (it's important that you do not pierce the meat, so it remains moist and tender), add 1 teaspoon lemongrass, shallots, yellow and green onions. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes, then place the beef in the wok (over high heat) and cook for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

Assembly time: In an individual serving bowl, place a mixture of cucumber, pickled spring onions, bean sprouts, shallots, lettuce, Thai basil, rau răm and mint. Cover with rice vermicelli noodles (called bún). Sprinkle with peanuts (if using). Top with the sliced beef. Drizzle with nước chấm.

Bon appétit! 


Rau răm are Vietnamese coriander leaves used in South Asian cooking. I buy them at the Asian market. If you don't have any, just use regular cilantro and double the amount.

Little reminder of how to make lemongrass purée: Wash the lemongrass. Remove all the white powder off from the leaves. Cut the stalk in half. Crush the younger part with the back of a chef's knife and set it aside  (you can use it for making broth). Cut the remaining stalk into extremely thin slices using a chef's knife. In a mortar and pestle, grind the thin slices of lemongrass, then transfer and mix everything using a mini food processor. It should turn into a fine moist powder. Store the remainder in the freezer for future use.

The best way to let the vermicelli noodles cool and pick them up without difficulty once cooled is to place an inverted plate at the bottom of a colander, then add the drained noodles. That way they keep their shape and don't stick to the bottom of the colander.

All the ingredients listed above can be found in any Asian stores.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on February 28, 2013.


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