Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
Bò kho is Vietnamese beef stew with a flavorful and aromatic broth. It’s so comforting and can be eaten with rice, noodles, or a baguette.
What is Bò Kho?
Bò kho is a Vietnamese beef stew bursting with lemongrass, five spice, star anise, ginger, and garlic flavor.
It has French and Chinese influences which is reflective of Vietnam’s history.
It is similar to the French stew, beef bourguignon, but with Chinese spices and of course Vietnamese ingredients.
The result is a super delicious beef stew that’s spicy, flavorful, aromatic, and so comforting.
Bò kho is typically eaten with rice, noodles, or a toasted bánh mì baguette.
It is also served with fresh basil, cilantro, and salt, pepper, and lime (muối tiêu chanh) for dipping.
Bò Kho Ingredients
Before you begin making this bò kho recipe, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:
- Beef: I like to use boneless beef chuck shoulder roast for stews.
- Substitute: You can also use other cuts of beef like brisket, oxtail, shank, etc.
- Aromatics: Garlic and shallots are essential to Vietnamese cooking. It will make the marinade fragrant.
- Bò Kho Seasoning: A pre-made blend of powdered spices that can be found at your local Asian grocery store like 99 Ranch. The package may say “Gia Vị Nấu Bò Kho” or “Oriental Beef Spices”.
- Substitute: The blend consists of paprika, chili, fennel, onion, star anise, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, and clove.
- Chicken Bouillon: This adds more savory, salty, and umami flavor to the beef. My favorite is Knorr chicken bouillon.
- Substitute: Use MSG, mushroom seasoning, or other types of bouillon in its place.
- Black Pepper: Black pepper adds just a hint of warmth to the marinade.
- Sugar: Sugar balances out the salty seasonings, enhancing the flavor but not making it too sweet.
- Soy Sauce: Regular or low-sodium soy sauce adds a salty, savory, and umami flavor. I like to use the Kikkoman brand.
- Beef Broth: The base for the stew to add more beefy flavor. You can also use regular, low-sodium, or unsalted broth based on your preference.
- Substitute: Chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water can be substitutes. However, it will give the stew a lighter flavor.
- Coconut Water: Adds additional flavor to the broth base with a natural sweetness.
- Substitute: You can omit and add more beef broth or water. Some Vietnamese-American people use coconut soda, Coke, or Sprite in its place.
- Oil: A neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil for sautéing aromatics and browning the beef.
- Aromatics: A combination of lemongrass, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, and garlic will make the stew fragrant and flavorful.
- Tomato Paste: Adds a robust tomato flavor, depth, and vibrant color to the stew.
- Fish Sauce: A staple in Vietnamese cuisine that adds saltiness and umami but does not make the stew taste fishy.
- Bò Kho Seasoning: See above description. This is also in the stew to flavor the broth.
- Chicken Bouillon: Similar to its use in the marinade, see above for description and substitutes.
- Onion: Onion adds a lot of flavor, savoriness, and natural sweetness to the broth.
- Sugar: Sugar balances out the saltiness of the broth.
- Carrots: Chopped carrots adds more natural sweetness and brightness to the stew.
How to Make Bò Kho
Bò kho takes a bit of time to make but it is definitely worth the wait!
Once you have all the ingredients and prep them, you can just toss everything into a pot.
The magic happens when the beef is marinating and stew is simmering.
The results are tender, meaty, and so comforting.
Let’s walk through this bò kho recipe step-by-step so you can recreate this perfectly at home!
As always a recipe card is at the end that you can print out, pin to Pinterest, or save for later.
Prep Bò Kho Ingredients
Before diving into the recipe, prep the ingredients.
Start by trimming off large pieces of fat from the beef.
Then cut it into 1-2 inch cubes based on your preference.
Try to cut the pieces into similar sizes so they cook evenly.
Next, prep the aromatics.
- Lemongrass: cut off the end and the tough grassy top (about ½ to ⅔ of the stalk), peel back and remove the outer leaves, cut into roughly 3 inch pieces, and smash to release the aromatics
- Ginger: peel and smash to release the aromatics
- Garlic: peel and mince
- Shallots: peel and chop into small pieces
- Onion: peel and cut in half
For the carrots, starting by washing and peeling them.
Then to cut, you can chop them straight, chop diagonally, or cut on a bias.
To do this, cut at an angle then rotate about 90 degrees and repeat.
I like to cut it like this because it gives each piece a different shape and more texture.
Also try to cut the carrots into similar sizes so it cooks evenly.
Step 2: Marinate Beef
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the beef marinade:
- beef chuck roast
- bò kho seasoning
- chicken bouillon
- black pepper
- soy sauce
Mix well so the seasonings evenly coat the beef.
Then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight to marinate.
The longer it marinates, the better.
This gives time for the seasonings to penetrate the meat so you get more flavor throughout instead of just on the outside.
Step 3: Sauté Aromatics
Then in a large pot on medium heat, add a drizzle of oil.
I am using a non-stick ceramic Caraway 6.5 quart dutch oven.
Add lemongrass, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and garlic to the pot.
Sauté for about 1-2 minutes until it is aromatic.
Step 4: Brown the Beef
Once the aromatics (and your kitchen) are starting to smell good, add in the marinated beef.
Brown the beef on all sides. However, don’t overcrowd and do this in batches as needed to get a better sear.
Then add tomato paste and cook for a about 2-5 minutes to caramelize the sugars in it.
This enhances the flavors and gives even more depth to the stew.
Step 5: Simmer the Bò Kho
Next, add in beef broth, coconut water, fish sauce, bò kho seasoning, chicken bouillon, onion, and sugar.
Simmer covered on low to medium heat for 1 hour.
This is where the magic happens.
All the ingredients infuse together and the beef cooks low and slow to become super tender.
Step 6: Cook the Carrots
After 1 hour of simmering, remove the onions.
The onions are used to flavor the broth and is too mushy to eat enjoyably.
I like to remove it at this step before it becomes too mushy and disintegrates into the soup.
Then add carrots and simmer covered for an additional 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, the carrots should be soft but still have a little bite to them.
However, you can cook longer if you like it softer.
At this point, you can taste test and adjust to your liking.
Bò kho should be very fragrant, rich, and savory with a touch of sweetness.
Step 7: Serve Bò Kho
Before serving, remove lemongrass, star anise, ginger, cinnamon stick.
Bò kho is best enjoyed warm for maximum coziness.
Serve in bowls. It is great on its own but even better with one of the following:
- bánh mì baguette
- French bread
- Mexican bolillo bread
- rice noodles
- egg noodles
Lastly, some additional toppings and side items to accompany bò kho:
- fresh basil
- fresh cilantro
- salt, pepper, and lime sauce for dipping (muối tiêu chanh)
How to Eat Bò Kho
There are many different ways to enjoy bò kho.
Here are a few suggestions on how to eat this delicious Vietnamese beef stew.
However, it’s going to be delicious regardless!
Bò Kho with Noodles
If you are eating bò kho with noodles, then you can treat it like a noodle soup similar to pho.
Since the broth is so fragrant, no additional sauces like sriracha or hoisin are needed.
However, you can still garnish it with cilantro or basil to your liking.
These herbs add a freshness that contrasts nicely with the richness of the Vietnamese beef stew.
Bò Kho with Bread
If you are eating bò kho with rice or bread, then serve these both on the side.
Similarly, you can garnish with cilantro or basil to your liking.
Each person can add the desired amount of rice into their bowl.
For the bread, make sure to toast it first.
The crispy crust in combination with the fluffy center makes it so addictive.
Then tear off a piece of bread and dip it into the bò kho.
It soaks up the delicious broth beautifully.
Bò Kho Dipping Sauce
Vietnamese people love a good dipping sauce.
There seems to be a dipping sauce for every dish.
For bò kho, it is typically muối tiêu chanh.
Muối tiêu chanh is a simple sauce made with salt, black pepper, and lime juice.
Simply adjust the amount to your liking and mix together.
Dip the rich meats into the sauce for a burst of brightness.
Leftover Storage & Reheating
If you have any leftovers, store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Store noodles, rice, or bread separately.
To reheat, use the microwave or stovetop on low to medium heat so that the broth doesn’t evaporate too much and condense.
If it seems more condensed, you can add more water or broth as needed.
However, avoid reheating multiple times. Only reheat the amount you want to eat.
More Vietnamese Recipes To Try:
If you’re a fan of bò kho, then you’ll need to try these comforting Vietnamese recipes as well!
Save This Bò Kho Recipe!
I hope this bò Kho recipe tutorial is helpful and that you try to recreate this Vietnamese comfort food at home!
This Vietnamese beef stew is hearty, flavorful, and super satisfying.
It’s perfect for rainy or cold days and also just anytime you need something to warm your belly and soul.
Be sure to save this recipe and share with your family and friends!
If you try it, then please leave a rating below. I’d love to know what you think!
Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
- 2 lb beef chuck roast
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 tsp bò kho seasoning
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 cups (32 oz) beef broth
- 2 cups (17 oz) coconut water
- oil for sautéing & browning
- 3 lemongrass stalks
- 2 inch ginger, peeled & smashed
- 3 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp bò kho seasoning
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon
- 1 onion
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- toasted bánh mì baguette, rice noodles, or rice
- salt, pepper, & lime dipping sauce (muối tiêu chanh)
- Start by prepping the ingredients: trim large pieces of fat off the beef and cut into 1-2 inch cubes, cut and smash lemongrass and ginger, peel and mince garlic, peel and chop shallots, peel and cut onion in half, and peel and cut carrots.
- Combine all ingredients for the beef marinade and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight to marinate.
- In a large pot on medium heat, sauté lemongrass, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and garlic with a little bit of oil for 1-2 minutes until it is aromatic.
- Add the marinated beef and brown on all sides. Add tomato paste and cook for a 2-5 minutes to enhance its flavor.
- Then add in beef broth, coconut water, fish sauce, bò kho seasoning, chicken bouillon, onion, and sugar. Simmer covered on low to medium heat for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, remove the onions, add carrots, and simmer covered for an additional 20 minutes. Taste test and adjust to your liking.
- Before serving, remove lemongrass, star anise, ginger, cinnamon stick. Serve bò kho warm in bowls with basil, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime for dipping on the side and enjoy!