Eat, Soup
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Vietnamese Beef Stew / Bò Kho

Vietnamese beef stew is a fusion dish that was influenced by French colonialism. The stew reminds me of a rustic dish that I would get in the French countryside, but with Asian flavors. This recipe is not hard to make; however, it does take time like all good stews. Traditionally, a variety of cheap meat cuts are added to this dish such as tendons. To keep this recipe simple, we only used rough beef flank. Additionally, we demonstrated two ways to cook it using a pressure cooker or a Dutch oven. The pressure cooker cuts the total cooking time in half, but it does require that you know how to use a pressure cooker or have one available. The longer and more traditional way is to use a Dutch oven and simmer the stew over low heat for an extended period of time. This is a perfect dish for any weekend this winter.

Vietnamese beef stew has more of a watery consistency than the traditional western stew, which is much thicker. This is so folks can eat the stew with noodles or with a lot of French bread.

Difficulty: Moderate / Servings: 4-6 people / Time: 1 hour to 2 hours depending on cooking methods.

Equipment: Pressure cooker or a heavy pot like a Dutch oven

Ingredients:

2 pounds of rough beef flank or beef shank

(Optional): You can add tendons and other stew meat cuts that you prefer.

2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of rock sugar

2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons of Knorr Chicken Bouillon Powder (“Chicken BP”) or any chicken bouillon powder.

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

3 tablespoons of minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon of bot ngu vi huong or 5 spice powder

1 tablespoon of Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho or Vietnamese beef stew seasoning (If you do not have this seasoning mix, you can skip it. Add 2-3 bay leaves to the pot during the braising process if you have it available in your pantry.)

7 star anise

2-3 small cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of unsalted canned diced tomatoes

6 oz. can of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

3 large carrots

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1 onion sliced into 1 inch-thick wedge

3 stalks of lemongrass

12 cups + 1/2 cups of water

Garnish with mint, cilantro and serve with a squeeze of lime

Optional: Korean green chili and 3-4 medium size potato

Directions:

Cut 3 stalks of lemongrass into halves.

Smash each stalk with the side of a heavy knife or meat tenderizer to release the juice.

Peel and cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces.

Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes.

Marinate beef for 15 to 30 minutes with the following:  1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of Chicken BP, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of 5 spice seasoning, 1 tablespoon of Vietnamese beef stew seasoning (skip if you do not have this), 3 tablespoons of minced ginger, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

A. Using a pressure cooker (approx. 45 min cooking time):

In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on low and sauté lemongrass, 2-3 cinnamon sticks and 7 star anise for 5 minutes to release the flavors and fragrance. Turn the heat to medium-high and brown 1 tablespoon of garlic.

Once the garlic starts to turn brown, add the marinated beef and sear the outside.

After the beef has been seared, slowly add 1/2 cup of water to the pan to let the beef cook for another 10 minutes to incorporate all the aromatics.

Transfer to a pressure cooker and add 8 cups of water. Seal the pressure cooker and cook on high heat until steam starts to come out. Turn the pressure cooker knob to low pressure (215-220F) and set the timer for 25 minutes.

While the beef is cooking, in a separate pot, boil carrots with 4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of rock sugar until they softened but are still slightly firm. This takes approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside. (If you cook this with the meat in the pressure cooker, the carrots will turn to mush.)

Ready to boil
Carrots cooked until softened but are still slightly firm.

Optional: If you want to add potatoes to the stew, you can boil them with the carrots. Make sure they are of similar size. Cook the carrots first and then after a few minutes, add the potatoes as they tend to cook faster.

After 25 minutes, remove the pressure cooker lid according to the instruction. Also remove and discard half of the cinnamon sticks and star anise from the pot.

Add to the pot, 1/2 cup of the can diced tomatoes, all of the 6 ounce can of tomato paste, onion, carrots, and its liquids.

Add the par cooked carrots
After adding all the liquids from the carrots.

Season with 2 tablespoons of Chicken BP, 1 tablespoon of rock sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bring to a rolling boil uncovered and cook for 15-20 minutes until all the ingredients are incorporated. The stew is ready to be served.

B. Using a Dutch oven on the stove or in an oven (approximately 1.5 hours of cooking time)

You can braise the meat in a covered heavy pot like a Dutch oven and put it in the oven at 350F for 1 hour or on the stove on a low boil for 1 hour until it is tender. The cooking process will be similar to the directions above.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on low and sauté lemongrass, 2-3 cinnamon sticks and 7 star anise for 5 minutes to release the flavors and fragrance. Turn the heat to medium-high and brown 1 tablespoon of garlic.

Once the garlic starts to turn brown, add the marinated beef and sear the outside.

After the beef has been seared, slowly add 1/2 cup of water to the pan to let the beef cook for another 10 minutes to incorporate all the aromatics.

Add 8 cups of water and let the stock come to boil.

Once the stock comes to a boil, cover and turn the heat to low and let it cook for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Alternatively, you can braise the meat in the oven at 350F for 1 hour like below.

While the beef is cooking, in a separate pot on the stove, boil carrots with 4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of rock sugar until they softened but are still slightly firm. This take approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside. (We like to cook this separately and add it to the pot near the end to get the perfect carrot consistency.) The carrots will continue to cook when they are combined with the braised meat later.

Optional: If you want to add potatoes to the stew, you can boil them with the carrots. Make sure they are of similar size. Cook the carrots first and then after a few minutes, add the potatoes as they tend to cook faster.

Once the meat is tender, discard half of the cinnamon sticks and star anise from the pot.

Add 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, all of the 6 ounce can of tomato paste, onion slices, carrots and its liquids.

Season with 2 tablespoons of Chicken BP, 1 tablespoon of rock sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bring to a rolling boil and cook for another 15-20 minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. It is then ready to be served.

This stew is traditionally topped with mint, chili and a squeeze of lime and accompanied with a crusty baguette. I personally like to add a spoon of my home made chili oil to add a kick to this stew.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors: Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

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