Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

I tried this recipe a while ago, and it was super tasty! Definitely on my list of “lunches-that-will keep-in-the-fridge/freezer”. Relatively easy to make, just set aside about 3 or so hours to get it together. The beef was just falling apart, and had clearly been well-loved in that pot, getting amongst the lemongrass and ginger. I used chuck steak, but you could also use beef cheeks. I’m not too sure about the other parts of the cow, but the rule is, if you are making a curry/stew, particularly a long stew curry, pick a cheap cut that has some fat marbling and does well in stews.

It is quite a heavy stew, so I would recommend keeping this as a winter warmer.

This is a vietnamese dish, so of course, there is fish sauce in it. Low-salt beef stock is used because the fish sauce more than compensates in the salt department. If you were to use normal beef stock, the whole dish would be way too salty, and you would be sad.

Serves: 10-12 serves

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours

Resting Time: 15 minutes


1.5kg beef chuck steak, cut into 4cm cubes

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp paprika

salt, to taste

1/4 cup peanut oil, or other vegetable oil

1/2 cup tomato paste

3 think slices ginger

1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp Chinese five spice powder

2 tsp curry powder

3 whole star anise

1 cinnamon quill

1 tsp cloves

2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and bruised

2 bay leaves

2 litres low-salt beef stock (this is important! use the low-salt!)

2 tbsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp salt

3 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

coriander leaves, rough chop, to serve


  1. Toss the beef in the flour and paprika and season with a little salt.
  2. Heat the oil in a large fry pan/pot and fry the beef over a medium heat (in batches if necessary) until it is well browned. Remove from the pan/pot and set aside.
  3. In the same pan/pot, add the tomato paste, ginger, onion, garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion starts to turn translucent.
  4. Add the five spice powder, curry powder, star anise, cinnamon cloves, lemongrass and bay leaves, and stir to combine.
  5. Re-introduce the beef to the pan, and pour in enough beef stock to cover the meat completely.
  6. Add the fish sauce and salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered for about 1.5 hours (skimming the top at regular intervals to remove any scum), or until the beef is just tender.
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables soften.
  8. Allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
  9. Fish out bay leaves, lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and star anise before serving.
  10. Adjust the seasoning with salt or fish sauce and serve with coriander leaves sprinkled on top and rice on the side.


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