This Vietnamese beef stew (Bo Kho) is such a hearty and comfort soup that will warm up your heart in this cold and windy winter season. I learned how to make this stew a while back from my mom. To me she made the best "Bo Kho" that I have ever tasted. What makes her recipe different from the others is that she concocted her own spices instead of using the pre-mixed "Bo Kho" spices that sold ubiquitously at any Vietnamese supermarket. The flavor of her soup definitely has more depth and very comforting to the palate. This traditional stew is very versatile because you can serve it with rice noodle, with steamed rice or with a nice warm loaf of baguette. I love to enjoy this stew with the crusty baguette for an energy-filled breakfast with a nice cup of Vietnamese coffee while my husband loves it served with rice noodle for dinner. The cooking process may require some simmering time to tenderize the beef and to strengthen the depth of the flavor, but the ending result is well worth it. I hope you, too, will enjoy this hearty stew as much as I do.
1. For the spices:
- 2 tsp of five spices
- 2 tsp of curry powder
- 1 tsp of ginger powder
- 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp of paprika
- 2 tsp of garlic powder
2. For the marinade:
- 2 tsp of mushroom seasoning
- 2.5 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp of sugar
- 5 tbsp of hoisin sauce
- 5 tbsp of fish sauce
- 4 tbsp of ketchup or tomato sauce
- Ground black pepper
- 5 tbsp of ground lemongrass, 4 cloves of garlic, 3 shallots, 1 knob of peeled ginger
3. For the broth:
- 2 tbsp of fish sauce
- 2 tbsp of salt
- 2 small pieces of rock sugar (see picture below)
- 10 cups of water
- 2 cans of chicken broth
- 3 tbsp of annatto seeds
- 1/4 cup of oil
4. For the stew:
- 3-4 lbs of beef shank (cut into 2 inch cubes)
- 4 carrots (cut into diagonal chunks)
- 4 stalks of lemongrass
5. For the garnish:
- Rice noodle (or steamed rice, baguette)
- 1 bunch of green onion and cilantro (chop finely together)
- 1 white onion (slice thinly)
- Lime wedges, red chili peppers
- 1 bunch of Thai basil (cleaned and finely chopped)
- Bean sprouts
- Combine the spice ingredients together with the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well and set aside.
- Clean the beef shank well under running cold water, pat dry and cut into 2 inch cubes.
- Add half of the spice/marinade mixture to the beef and mix well, set aside to marinade the beef for about an hour or overnight.
- In a small saucepan, add 1/3 cup of oil and heat it for a couple minutes before add in the annatto seeds. Let the seeds infuse into the oil for about 2 minutes under low heat. Turn off the heat and drain the annatto-infused oil through a sieve. Discard the seeds and reserve the oil.
- In a large stock pot, add the annatto oil and the remaining half of the spice/marinade mixture. Stir the mixture until fragrant for about a minute, then add in the marinaded meat.
- Mix and stir the meat occasionally for about 15 minutes until the meats are no longer pink. Pour in the chicken broth and water. Bruise the lemongrass stalks and add to the broth, season with fish sauce, salt and rock sugar. Cover lightly and let the stew simmer for about 3 hours under medium-low heat, add the carrots and continue to simmer for another hour until both the carrots and meats are fork-tender.- To serve, add rice noodle in a bowl, ladle the stew on top. Garnish with chopped basil, cilantro, green onion, sliced onions and serve with bean sprout and a spritz of lime juice.