23 March 2011

Bo kho (braised beef stew)

Now that I finally finished my Asian food tour I am excited to go back to what I do best...which is eating...
I wish I could say cooking, but after joining Foodbuzz and checking out other foodie blogs I got a bit intimidated (very intimidated). They do such a good job. Their pictures are so awesome and they actually have a recipe! There is still so much to learn and I have a long way to go.

That's why I am extra proud of my bo kho. Finally something I can pull off "easy". I don't make it as often as I should. I don't know why. It is relatively easy to make so I should make it more often. Lets get started.
I used a little bit more then a kilo of beef (riblappen) and I always try to find a piece that has some fat on.
My list of ingredients: carrots (lots of them), garlic powder, Chinese 5 spices, onions, fresh garlic, fresh bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and some lemon grass. Oh I forgot to include curry powder, star anise powder and fresh ginger.
I cut the meat in big junks. They have to simmer for a long time and I like them big so they don't fall apart. I seasoned the meat with lots of fresh pepper, salt, some curry powder and some star anise powder.
Chop the onion, the lemon grass, the ginger and the garlic and sweat them in a pan with some olive oil. Then add the bay leaves, star anise and cloves.
Add the meat in the same pan and sear it as much as you can.
When the meat turns a bit brown it's time to add some water.
Make sure everything is covered and bring it to a boil. Then taste the broth and add some salt or fish sauce if necessarily. Remove all the foam and fat you see to get a clear broth. And remember to put in 3 table spoons of my secret ingredient...ketchup. It will help tenderizing the meat.
Now comes the easy part: cover the pot and let it simmer for at least 3 hours. Check up ever 30 minutes to make sure there's enough broth left and after two and a half hours add the carrots. Make sure you don't cut them to small, they will fall apart. Taste again to make sure that it is to your liking. After your 3 hour cooking set it aside. If you want to eat it right away, you might need to simmer it for another hour. What you are looking for is melt in your mouth meat and carrots. That's why I always cook it in two days so all the flavors can marry together.
The next day I removed as much fat as I could and cooked it for another hour. I like my meat to be super tender and soft.
I served my bo kho with rice noodles, bean sprouts, some sprinkles of spring onion and a couple drops of lime juice. Before I put everything in a bowl I made sure I removed the bay leaves, the star anise and the lemon grass. Noting that ruins your meal as accidentally biting in one of them.
I used the bunh bo hue noodles, which are slightly thicker noodles. No bread this time.
And now the reason why I am so proud of my bo kho...This is the one I made...
And this was the one we ate in Vietnam...The taste of my bo kho was very close to the one we had here. Mine just lacked the nice red color that came from the annatto seeds.

You don't eat the seeds but sweat them in oil to get the nice red color and then use the oil to color your food.
I looked everywhere for them, but apparantly they are not available here in Holland. And I forgot to bring them from Vietnam...bummer.


  1. This stew/soup looks fantastic. Perfect for this rainy day - Luv all the ingredients in this warming dish!

  2. Mmmm, looks delicious! You have a wonderful blog!
    Have a great weekend!


  3. @ Cristina: Thank you. Bo kho is very good with French bread also. We eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

    @ Tammy: Thank you so much for your kind words and for following me!! I am so excited to actually have people to write for.

  4. Gosh! This looks great! I am so going to make this and putting it with noodles sounds good too!


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