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Monday, December 19, 2011

bun bo hue ~ home

Bun Bo Hue

thus far, i have lived in 5 countries, 3 states, and quite honestly, more towns & cities than i care to recall. in the here & now, i have lived in baltimore for just over 9 years. i have owned my home paid my mortgage for 6 years. due to all the moves growing up, this setting down deep roots in one place is intoxicating.

my grandparents' first home in america was a small one bedroom apartment. the one bedroom housed mattresses on the floor for my two youngest uncles, one of them only just 15, and sometimes my father peter. in the living room, i had a small cot, while my grandparents and an assortment of aunts and cousins slept on the ground. we upgraded to another apartment down the street, this one a 2 bedroom.

bun bo hue

i never once thought we'd be there forever. i was right. when i was 11 i moved overseas with peter and his new job and his new family. i didn't come back home until i was 18, in college and eager to get out. after school, like clockwork i moved whenever leases ran its course. the packing. the unpacking. i fear i have never outgrown the nomadic lifestyle. i don't know how to properly unpack a box, not throw away said box or even let go of the ability to live out of a suitcase.

i have been on my own for a very long time. i can't remember the last time i was home visited my parents. this beef noodle dish (not to be confused with pho. and please don't confuse it, Wandering Chopsticks will kick your ass, and i got her back) reminds me of my stepmother. her mother is from Hue and this dish made an appearance regularly at the dinner table. it was not my favorite. in fact, i would usually make a sandwich to eat while the rest of the family slurped their way thru their bowls. like all the recipes in the cookbook i will refer to, food is used to show love, to show forgiveness, to bring home a lost child, and for me, it is home.

i initially wanted to attempt the recipe from Pauline Nguyen's memoir cookbook Secrets of the Red Lantern (with recipes by Luke Nguyen & Mark Jensen) but ended up meshing it with WC's version. i will not be posting the cookbook recipe, as there are so many other dishes in the book i want to create & post properly about, and i can't very well post every recipe in the book! just know that WC's version is, in my opinion, much more authentic and easier to follow.


This is my entry for Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event to celebrate Vietnamese cuisine created by Anh of Food Lovers Journey and Hong & Kim of the Ravenous Couple. This is the last month of this wonderful event, as a result, Anh will be the final hostess.


  1. Lan, I don't know that we'll ever let go of the instinct to hoard boxes....even though the nomadic lifestyle may be behind us.

  2. Great post for the final event. I can't imagine having such a nomadic lifestyle. But then again, I can't imagine living in 1 place for a lifetime. There's so much of the world to see (and eat) and only so little time. It's funny how we revisit the meals of our childhood. Even if they weren't our favourites at the time. Do you like it more as an adult?

  3. wendi, it's a sickness. seriously.

    bunnyeatsdesign, i find myself trying to recreate childhood dishes all the time, usually to failures but it's still so fun to try. yes, i do enjoy bun bo hue (tho not with all the blood & pig parts) as an adult now.

  4. Yummm! This reminds me of the beef noodles I used to eat in Singapore. I loved the variety of food we got there and beef noodles and wanton mee were some of my favorites!

  5. beetle buggy - yes! wonton mee is one of my faves.

    yarny days - thank you.

  6. Looks delicious. Would love for you to share your pictures with us over at

  7. Thanks for a heart felt post! And I feel it is so appropriate to mention that memoir! Food, after all, is also memory :)

  8. I have been wanting to make this dish for ages - I will be cheating the first time as I have a flavor packet from my mom - but the only thing holding me back is that I can't get the proper rice noodles here in dubai. Will have to wait until the next American visitor comes to smuggle me, er I mean, bring me some :)