Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

Step aside Pho. This Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho) is bursting with flavour, courtesy of aromatics such as lemongrass, star anise, and ginger. It’s rich, savoury, unctuous and impossibly delicious!!! Can’t forget about the tender, fall-apart chunks of braised beef. Best enjoyed with a warm toasted baguette as it’ll soak up all that umami beefy goodness! 

Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe

Bò Kho is typically simmered for a couple of hours so that the flavours get a chance to intensify while the beef falls apart into fork-tender pieces. What you get after that is an incredibly satisfying stew that’s rich and boasting sweet-savoury-umami flavours and super soft beef. As with most stews, the longer you cook it, the softer the meat becomes. 

Top tip – make extra servings of this as Bò Kho tastes even better the next day! Do not forget about that warm crusty bread, it is a must!  

Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe

Interestingly, the first time I had Bò Kho was in Copenhagen. We were out exploring the city and weren’t wrapped up warmly enough so by dinner time, we were freezing our butts off. We dipped into the nearest restaurant and lo and behold, it was a tiny Vietnamese diner. Fortunately we didn’t have for too long before we were served a hearty bowl of Bò Kho and a crusty piece of bread. The flavours of the warm spices along with slow simmered, fall-apart beef, it was perfect. 

Baguette for Vietnamese Beef Stew

After months and months of testing, this recipe is an ode to my time in Copenhagen, at this particular Vietnamese restaurant whose name escapes me. 

Did you know that this beef stew is enjoyed differently in the different parts of Vietnam? In Northern Vietnam, Bò Kho is eaten during breakfast while in Central Vietnam, it’s served with noodles in the stew. In Southern Vietnam, Bò Kho is served alongside a warm crusty bread for dipping in the flavour-packed broth. The latter is my favourite as you can probably tell by now. You could most certainly also enjoy this stew with a bowl of steamed rice. 

Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe
Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe

P.s. I’ve made this for my dad, who goes to Vietnam quite a lot and has had the real deal, AND HE APPROVES OF THIS VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW! He’s a really picky eater so for him to say that, it makes me incredibly happy 🙂 

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

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Serves: 4

Step aside Pho. This Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho) is bursting with flavour, courtesy of aromatics such as lemongrass, star anise, and ginger. It’s rich, savoury, unctuous and impossibly delicious!!! Can’t forget about the tender, fall-apart chunks of braised beef. Best enjoyed with a warm toasted baguette as it’ll soak up all that umami beefy goodness!

Ingredients

  • Neutral oil
  • 1kg boneless beef chuck or brisket, cut into roughly 4cm cubes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, use only the bottom half (Note 1)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 300ml water
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Baguette or steamed rice, to serve
  • Marinade
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice

Instructions

1

In a bowl, combine the fish sauce, brown sugar and Chinese 5 spice and mix well with the diced beef. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

2

Heat up some oil in a pot over high heat. Sear the beef cubes on all sides until browned, you may have to do this in batches. Transfer the seared beef to another bowl and set aside until ready to use.

3

Add more oil into the pot and lower the heat to medium-high. Add in the onion and cook until translucent. Add in the garlic, ginger, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and lemongrass and fry until fragrant. Then, add the tomato paste and mix until evenly distributed. Leave to cook for another minute or so, until the tomato paste darkens in colour.

4

Add the seared beef cubes and any resting juices and toss to coat. Pour in the beef stock, water, fish sauce and brown sugar, then bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 2-3 hours until the beef is fork tender. Then, add carrots and cook on high heat until tender.

5

Before serving, adjust the seasoning to your taste and remove the ginger slices, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and lemongrass.

6

Transfer the stew to your serving plates and garnish with coriander leaves (if using). Serve with a baguette and/or steamed rice.

Notes

1. Trim off the base and the top half of the lemongrass and remove the first two layers of its ‘woody’ exterior. Use the back of your knife to gently crush the stalk to release its flavour.

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