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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If Martha Made Vietnamese-- Bò Kho-Vietnamese Beef Stew

Taking a break from our trip to talk about food again... a reoccurring subject.  Mmmmmmmm!
Tet is upon us, and this one is for Christina and anyone else who I can urge to try a Vietnamese recipe during this holiday season.
(Yes, I said holiday season!  It's Tet!  The granddaddy of all Vietnamese holidays!)

"If Vietnamese soups were a high school popularity contest, Pho would be crowned Homecoming King, while Bun Bo Hue would be voted Most Likely to Succeed. Bò Kho, on the other hand, would probably be chilling on the grassy knoll with the stoners; high and oblivious to the hype. "

I ran across this quote in a review while looking looking for Bò Kho recipes.  I almost fell off my chair it's so funny!  Is it just me or does anyone else remember the stoners and the grassy knoll in high school!  Is this a universal common in all US high schools?  I didn't dare go there, but we all knew right where it was and who hung out there.    And in some strange small way, I always wanted to have that lack of concern re social status that the stoners seemed to exude.  I think making Bò Kho will be as close as I ever get to a stoner on the knoll.  

Bò Kho is Vietnamese comfort food.  I read that every Viet kitchen has it's own version. So there are many versions.  The recipe below is a combination of the basics found in several recipes.   It's been really cold in the desert these days, a bone chilling 66 degrees, and Bò Kho was just what the doctor ordered, yummy rich broth/stew with beef and carrots with the anise and bay leaves.  It's thicker than a soup, but not quite as thick as an American stew.  Sop it all up with a French baguette or serve it with rice.  Mmmmmm.  And as Vietnamese food usually does, it will have your kitchen smelling so so so good!  Invite your neighbor over to look at your new sofa, parka, coffee mug...  They'll be impressed with the smells wafting through your home.  

It all starts with lots and lots of ginger!

The "Slap and Chop" was actually a gag gift from my auntie.  Turns out it's really good for chopping up ginger!

And please pause for a moment to note Sunny's very blue nail polish!  Oh to be 16 again and wear blue nail polish!

Isn't anise pretty!

Most of the ingredients are at the regular grocery, but yes, you're gonna have to hit the Asian market for a few of the ingredients.  But that's ok, cause it's really a fun place like I've been telling you!  And you probably have a couple of the essential Asian ingredients on hand already, (fish sauce, anise) if you've tried some Vietnamese recipes already.  

Looks like the babes enjoyed it!
Recipe for Bò Kho - Vietnamese Beef Stew

2 lb boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, bruised and cut into 2" lengths
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 t Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 1/2 T minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 t brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 T cooking oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 14 oz can crushed tomato
1/2 t salt
2 star anise
1 T curry powder
3 c water
1 lb carrots cut into 1" chunks
Thai basil for garnish

Combine marinade ingredients, then toss to coat meat.  Set aside for 30 minutes (or more if you have to pick up the kiddos from the bus stop or stop to discuss you son's most recent 2 missing math assignments.)

Heat oil and sear meat.  Set aside bay leaf and lemon grass.  Discard marinade.  

In the same pot, cook onions and garlic till translucent.  Add tomatoes and salt and a lid.  Simmer 10-15 min. more.  

Add back beef, bay leaf, anise, lemon grass, curry powder, and water.  Simmer approx 75 min.

Add carrots and potatoes.  Simmer another 45 min. till beef and carrots are tender.

Remove bay leaf, anise, and lemon grass before serving.  Garnish with Thai basil.  Serve with French bread (which is my favorite!!!) or rice.


  1. What to do? It looks so mouth watering delicious, but we don't eat meat. Any vegetarian recipes brewing over there?

  2. your bo kho looks great! loved that you used the traditional basil as well. I wonder what would all the other soups be doing at the HS? :)

  3. Absolutely yummo sounding (and looking)! And it sounds like something that maybe I can do. :) Thanks Nancy! I will try it for my February recipe.


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