Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
After an unusually warm and dry year, the cold and rain have finally arrived…which means it is perfect weather for bo kho, Vietnamese beef stew. When I was a kid, I hated cooked carrots, so I would always pick them out and only eat the beef and potatoes. I LOVED dipping the french bread into the broth. Luckily, my very hungry almost 1-year-old LOVES to eat, especially cooked carrots, so I figured this would be a good way to introduce her to more Vietnamese flavors.
My mom used to make this with a combination of stew beef and oxtails, which the butchers at the grocery would give to us for free because nobody ate that stuff back then. I set out to do the same, but I guess people have finally realized oxtails are delicious and the one store I went to wanted $10.99/lb. I opted for 2 lbs short ribs instead for less than half the price. The end result was delicious but lacked some of the gelatinous variance in texture that oxtail would have added. I highly recommend doing half ox tails and half stew beef or short ribs.
Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) (adapted from Wandering Chopsticks)
- 1 lb beef stew meat or short ribs
- 1 lb oxtails
- 1 Tbsp annatto seeds
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2-3 pieces
- 2-inch knob peeled ginger, cut into thick slices
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
- 2 tsp Indian curry powder
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 6-oz can tomato paste
- 2-3 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch chunks
- 3-4 potatoes, peeled & cut into 2 -inch chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- lime wedges
- basil/cilantro/scallion, chiffonade
- crusty French bread
If making this in the Instant Pot, use the sautee function to make oil and brown meat. Cook under pressure for half the time you would simmer (i.e., rather than simmer for 1 hour, cook under pressure for 30 minutes).
- In a 6-7 quart pot, add the annatto seeds to 2 Tablespoons of hot olive oil until the seeds release their color. When the oil turns red, discard the seeds.
- Sprinkle flour over beef and oxtails and brown the meat in the red oil.
- Add lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, bay leaf, Chinese 5-spice, curry powder, fish sauce, salt and tomato paste to the pot.
- Fill pot ~3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ~1 hour.
- After an hour, add vegetables and simmer for another hour.
- Taste and add more salt, fish sauce or spices if needed.
- Once meat is falling off the bone (it took me 3-4 hours total), remove the ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon and star anise.
- Scoop into bowls and serve with a side of toasty french bred. Garnish with lime, basil, scallions and cilantro.