Braised food

How to make Bò Kho, the Vietnamese braised beef stew with umami

This year’s Lunar New Year (Tết in Vietnam) falls on February 1, but why not start celebrating the Year of the Tiger this weekend with bò kho, a braised beef recipe from the creator of Red Boat Fish Sauce. Cuong Pham started making his exceptional fish sauce in 2011, realizing that the condiment was what was missing from the food he loved so much in his youth. Working with writer Tien Nguyen and beloved chef Diep Tran, Pham recently penned a cookbook that features classic Vietnamese recipes but also shows you how to deploy fish sauce in dishes like spaghetti and marinara. .

It’s an adaptation of my mother’s bò kho recipe. Her recipes for bò kho and cà ri gà (chicken curry) are on the same page of her cookbook and there’s something so fitting about it: they’re two Vietnamese classics, both comforting and inviting. in their own way. Where cà ri gà is a chicken-based stew, bò kho is a beef affair, robust and hearty with a deep, shiny broth that’s warm and fragrant with spices. My mother often made this dish, and we ate it most often with a chopstick, usually bánh mì, tearing off crispy wedges and pushing them into our bowls to soak up the liquid. At the end of the night, a confetti of breadcrumbs covered the table. This is part of the fun of bò kho, but you can also serve it with rice or rice noodles if you prefer.

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Bò Kho (beef stew)

For 4 to 6 people

Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook Cover

Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook Cover

Spice mix


  • 3 pounds rough flank, boneless short ribs or brisket, cut into 1.5-inch cubes

  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt

  • 3 tbsp. Annatto oil


  • 3 bed. diced white onion, cut into 1.5 inch cubes

  • 0.5 hp. chopped lemongrass

  • 1 ea. Sliced ​​shallot

  • .25 c. chopped garlic

  • 1 ea. sliced ​​green onions, green stems and white root separated

  • 2 tbsp. minced ginger

  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste

  • .25 c. Red boat fish sauce, divided

  • 2 star anise pods

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 pint. coconut water

  • 1 tbsp. rock sugar

  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 ea. chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, combine all the spices in the spice blend and stir to combine. Put aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the cubed beef, salt and 1 tbsp. annatto oil. Toss to coat the beef with the oil.

Place a large Hollandaise over high heat. When a few drops of water sprinkled in the pan immediately evaporate, the pan is ready to grab. Working in batches so as not to clutter the pot, sear the beef on all sides, then transfer it to a mixing bowl and set aside.

In the same saucepan over high heat, add the remaining two tbsp. annatto oil. When the oil is hot, start whipping the broth by first adding the diced onions. Quickly fry the onions until the edges begin to brown and char in spots. Use a colander or slotted spoon to transfer the onions to a mixing bowl. Put aside.

Add the spice mix to the hot oil. Sauté the spices in the oil for about 30 seconds, then add the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, white roots of green onions and ginger. Sauté until aromatic, about five minutes. Add the tomato puree and 3 tbsp. of fish sauce. Sauté for five minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every two minutes.

Tie the star anise, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves in a cheesecloth bundle, then add the bundle to the jar.

Add the seared beef, coconut water, rock sugar and 2 qt. the water. Bring the pan to a boil. Skim off any impurities, then lower the heat and simmer until the beef is tender, about 4 hours. At this point you can remove the cheesecloth.

Make a slurry by mixing cornstarch with ⅓ tsp. water in a small bowl, then add the porridge to the pan. Add the carrots and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the fried onions, then remove the pan from the heat. Taste the stew and add an additional tablespoon. fish sauce if desired. Garnish with the green onion tops and cilantro. Serve with crusty bread, rice or noodles.

This recipe is taken from The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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