January 28, 2016

Vietnamese Beef Stew “Bò Kho”

Hello, it’s me.

I have just begun to defrost from the epic Blizzard of 2016 and realized that I have not blogged in two months. The holidays, the snow, let’s just say blizzard-winter-brain is no bueno.

Let’s unfreeze with one of the best Vietnamese comfort dishes, Bò Kho.

Bò Kho is a beef stew made with beef chuck, carrots and onions. The characteristic flavors stem from cinnamon and star anise. I opted out of including potatoes, because this way I can eat more noodles. This dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Serve with:

  • French baguette, torn to pieces and dipped
  • Pho noodles for Pho Bo Kho
  • or in my case of ramen obsession, with Ramen noodles for Ramen Bo Kho.

Almost all the recipes I found online required soooooo many ingredients and had just so many steps. Usually, I find this attractive and I appeal to the challenge. Today is not that day. Sometimes you just want to eat.

This recipe is adapted from Chris Shepherd, chef from one of my favorite restaurants in Houston: Underbelly.


Blog- Bo Kho
Mise en place: Beef Chuck, Carrots, Pearl Onions, Beef Stock, Brown Sugar, Star Anise, Cinnamon Sticks, Fish Sauce, Butter, Salt
Blog- Bo Kho 2
I love carrots, so I just throw in all that I happen to have in the fridge at that moment in time.
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Star Anise … Major Key 🔑
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In your Dutch Oven, heat butter over medium-high heat and brown the beef chuck in batches.
Blog- Bo Kho 5
Make sure you brown each side. Invite your loved ones into the kitchen at this point in time, if the aroma of butter searing beef hasn’t already drawn them in!
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Second batch of beef browning, give it about 15 minutes per batch.

While the beef is browning, prep your Pearl Onions. Boil water, pour over onions in a bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then drain. Cut the butt off the onion and squeeze- the entire onion pops out, peeled and ready!


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Once the beef is browned, add all the beef back into the pot.
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Throw in the peeled pearl onions, stir until softened about 8 min.
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Add Star Anise and Cinnamon sticks, stir for about 2 minutes
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Add the toxins also known as brown sugar (I tried to avoid this, but it just isn’t the same without the caramelizing factor). Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
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Now for the magic. Add Red Boat Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam) and stir. Don’t neglect the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.


Pour in the Beef Stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover for one hour then add the chopped carrots uncovered. Salt as needed. Serve with your choice of carbs.

I swear it tastes better the next day as leftovers.

Vietnamese Beef Stew "Bo Kho"
Yields 6
Vietnamese beef stew with carrots, onions flavored with star anise and cinnamon
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 48 min
Total Time
2 hr 8 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 48 min
Total Time
2 hr 8 min
  1. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 2 lb beef chuck (cubes)
  3. 1 bag pearl onions, peeled
  4. 4 whole star anise
  5. 2 cinnamon sticks
  6. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  7. 1/4 cup Red Boat fish sauce
  8. 6 cups Beef Stock
  9. 6 carrots, peeled, chopped
Pearl Onions
  1. Boil water, pour over onions in a bowl. After 3 minutes, drain. Cut ends off onions and squeeze to pop out a peeled onion. Set aside.
  1. Heat butter in Dutch oven, medium-high heat.
  2. Brown beef chuck in batches on all sides, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add pearl onions, stir, 8 minutes.
  4. Add star anise, cinnamon, stir, 2 minutes.
  5. Add brown sugar, stir until dissolved, 2 minutes.
  6. Add fish sauce, scraping bottom of pan, 1 minute.
  7. Add beef stock, bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  8. Add carrots, cooking until tender about 15 minutes, uncovered.
  9. Add salt if needed.
  10. Serve with baguette, pho noodles or ramen noodles.
Adapted from Chris Shepherd, Underbelly
Melllypoo http://www.melllypoo.com/