Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bo Kho - Vietnamese Beef Stew

I had a holiday party around Christmas time and I made a pot of Bo Kho and Ca Ri Ga.   I have to admit I don't make stews very often but I figure it would be a hearty meal and will definitely warm up my guests. That night I had many compliments on my pot of Bo Kho.  My friends requested that I post the recipe to my blog with the exact measurements.  So for this recipe I actually measured what I can out, but sometimes during the cooking process I forget.  But I really want to emphasize the importance of tasting your food.  It will help you improve your cooking skills tremendously.

Bo Kho would probably not make my top 20 of favorite Viet food to eat because it's simply too heavy for me.  I prefer eating pho or bun bo hue over bo kho, but stews are great during the cold Indiana winter.  The day after the party, I brought home some bo kho to my family.  My sister-in-law showed me a great way to lighten a hearty bowl of bo kho and it made it so incredibly delicious.  She squeezed two lime wedges to a bowl of bo kho and top it with lots of cilantro.   The lime and cilantro added depth and tanginess to the broth.  I didn't even care about the star  of the dish, the shank, it was all about that broth.  If you haven't tried lime and cilantro with your bo kho, you have to give it a try!


4 lbs of beef shank
4 stalk of lemongrass (cut 1/2 and then crushed)
1/4 cup of tomato paste
6-7 carrots (cut into 1 inch pieces)
vegetable oil
2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
chili powder (if you like spicy)
1/4 cup of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
5-6 star anise
1 whole sweet onions
cooking oil
bay leaf

Marinade for 2 lbs of beef shank:

1/4 cup of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of chili powder (this depends on the spice level of your chili powder and how spicy you want it to be)
1 tablespoon of minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon of minced shallots
1/2 tablespoon paprika

1.  Cut up the beef shank into cubes.  Keep in mind beef shank shrink during the cooking process.
2. Marinate the beef shank with the marinade over night if possible or at least 2-3 hours before cooking.
3.  In a large pot, heat up a little bit of vegetable oil and pour the marinated beef shank in the pot.  You want to brown the outside of the meat.
4.  Once the meat has brown evenly, add the tomato paste and coat the meat with the tomato paste.
5.  Add enough water to submerge the meats about 12 cups of water.
6.  Add two bay leaves and lemongrass stalk to the pot, season the pot with 1-1.5 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon mushroom seasoning.
8.  In a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of cooking oil.  Add 1 tablespoon of the paprika to the oil.   Let paprika cook on low heat, be careful not to let it burn.  This will add color to the broth.

9.  Let pot simmer on medium heat with lid on until meat is tender.  At this point the broth should be at the right consistency, not too water but not too thick.  The meat should be tender enough to eat but still stay in tact.
10.  Add the carrots and star anise to the pot and turn the heat down low.  If you put the lid on the carrots will cooked pretty fast.  You don't want to overcook the carrots and become mushy.
11.  Prepare yourself a bowl of bo kho with French baguettes or rice noodles (hu tieu).
12.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions, squeeze a little bit of lime to your bo kho .
13.  Enjoy!