Vietnamese Beef Stew - Bo Kho


After going out with friends Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning starving and hung over. Typically, I get pho at this point but it was too cold. Instead, I scrounged around the nearby Whole Foods for what yummy Vietnamese inspired dish I could make. I didn’t feel like trekking up to Argyle for speciality ingredients… cue hangover. I always keep lemongrass on hand… always. Even if it dries out in my fridge, Its still good enough to make a soup out of. I make tea out of my lemongrass if I don’t get around to using it.

There are many ways I can make this dish. There are a ton of tricks out there that involve marinating the meat overnight in Cola or a mashed kiwi. I’ve seen people simmer their beef in coconut water. I was supposed to add sherry but opted for Tito’s instead. It’s what I had on hand. Alcohol helps open up the flavors in tomato paste and it will cook off when it simmers. I wanted to keep this dish as pared down as possible and leave it up to you guys to make this dish your own.

Keeping things simple, I simply marinated my beef shank with a wet rub of five spice powder, garlic, salt and fish sauce for fifteen minutes and pan seared it with a hearty pat of butter. Then I transferred the beef to a plate, fried some onions and spices in the residual beef fat and butter. Just writing about it makes my mouth water at the thought of this step. I nestle the beef back into the pan, add stock, tomato paste, and a touch of alcohol. I simmered the stew on low for three hours. If you had an Instapot, this would be the step to transfer it to the machine. Browning the meat and slightly charring the onions in butter in a pan are a non negotiable in my opinion. You’ll end up with a rubber mess of beef bits and a congealed mess if you don’t.

I love to serve the first half of this stew with a crusty loaf of bread. As the large meaty bits run out, I like to dilute the broth with more stock, water, and re-season with fish sauce or salt to serve over a bowl of rice noodles.. I add beef meatballs if I have have them on hand.

Cuts of meat I recommend:

Beef Shank - The collagen of this makes the broth super silky

Short Rib - Oh you fancy. I imagine this would be a good way to impress a date. You might have to skim a little nit of the fat out of this because it will get a little oily.

Chuck Roast - Not as much collagen as beef shank, but definitely more beefy bang for your buck. I love this and its personally my stewing go to.

I do not recommend lean cuts of meat like brisket or flank. It always come out too stringy and chewy.

Vietnamese Cinnamon Braised Beef Stew