Mi bo kho is beef stew with a delicious Vietnamese twist. Beef stew with the haunting flavours of lemongrass and star anise. Background notes of curry and just a hint of heat. So good. Bo kho is comfort food done Vietnamese style.
This is stew. It’s braised beef. There’s nothing intimidating about it. If you can make stew you can make bo kho.
But it’s not just any beef stew. This is huge flavour beef stew. Big. Different. Unbelievable really. So much complexity. But still familiar. Still beef stew with carrots.
OK – it’s not exactly the same. It’s a variation on a theme. Classic beef stew with a few extra ingredients. And those ingredients move this into new territory.
This is why cooking is so much fun. Take something you know and love – mix it up a bit – and get something new but still familiar. And incredibly delicious.
Mi bo kho. Bo kho translates literally to beef stew. Mi just means serve it with egg noodles. Mi bo kho – beef stew with egg noodles. How can you go wrong?
Don’t like egg noodles? Use rice noodles. Then it’s hu tieu bo kho.
Feel like going absolutely crazy? Mix in a bit of Vietnamese sate sauce right at the end. It’s total overkill. But overkill isn’t a bad thing here at all. Subtle isn’t always best. These aren’t delicate flavours. Nuanced. Definitely. Subtle. Not a chance.
If you can get boneless short ribs use them. It’s not super authentic but it puts it right over the top. In fact, if you can get boneless short ribs any time you are making any beef stew just do it. Seriously.
Don’t even stop to think. You will never regret it. When was the last time you heard somebody say “Damn, I should not have used boneless short ribs.”
You can serve bo kho a few ways. Egg noodles. Rice noodles. Baguette even. All authentic. All just unbelievably tasty.
- 1 Tbsp madras curry powder
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder or 2/3 tsp cayenne
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp annatto powder for colour optional
- 4 lbs boneless beef short ribs cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3-4 Tbsp neutral oil e.g. vegetable
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 4 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp minced ginger
- 2 stalks lemongrass cut into 3" pieces
- 1/4 cup lemongrass finely minced
- 3 star anise
- 4 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups coconut water optional or 2 cups water
- 4 cups beef stock plus 2 cups of water
- 6 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 lb daikon cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4-6 carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 lbs Chinese egg noodles
- thai basil
- green onion
- bean sprouts
- red chilies
- Vietnamese sate sauce - optional but crazy good
- Pre-heat your oven to 325F.
- Put the minced lemongrass and star anise in a little cheesecloth sack. Secure with string. This way you can fish it out at the end.
- Heat the oil in an large, ovenproof pot.
- Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown in batches. Do not overcrowd your pan. You will wind up steaming the beef if you do. Set beef aside.
- Add onion to the pot and cook, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until well softened. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
- Add the spice mix and stir constantly for about one minute. Watch out. Don't let it burn.
- Add the tomato paste and stir. Cook another minute.
- Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, beef stock, coconut water (if using), big pieces of lemongrass and your little sack of lemongrass/star anise and stir to combine.
- Add the beef and accumulated juices to the pot.
- Cover the pot with a sheet of tin foil and then the lid.
- Place in the oven and cook, covered, for about 90 minutes.
- After 90 minutes, add the carrot and daikon.
- Re-cover and return to the oven. Cook for an additional 45 minutes or until the beef is tender.
Taste and adjust seasoning. You will likely need to add a bit of salt. Go slow. Creep up on it. You'll know when it's right. All of a sudden the lemongrass and beef flavour will hit you over the head. If you are using Vietnamese sate sauce now is the time to mix it in.
- Cook the egg noodles per the package directions.
- Drain the noodles.
- Divide the noodles into pre-heated bowls.
- Spoon beef, carrots, daikon and broth over the noodles.
- Serve with your choice of garnishes.
Vietnamese sate sauce is not that peanut sauce you are thinking of. It's a wonderful mixture of garlic, shallots, chilies and lemongrass. It is absolutely killer in this dish. It's also great in noodle dishes, on grilled chicken or in a stir fry. Try it. You won't be sorry...