BO KHO(BÒ KHO): SPICY VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW WITH NOODLES

Bo Kho is a spicy and flavorful Vietnamese beef stew that makes for a pretty epic bowl of noodle soup when you’ve maybe had your fill of pho or are looking for something a little different.

I’ve had Bo Kho at only a couple of places over the years, and they’ve been pretty wide-ranging in terms of quality. My favorite place to eat it is in the middle of New Jersey in the cafeteria of a Chinese grocery. You fork over $7.50, and just a few minutes later, you’re enjoying a big bowl of spicy beef broth with braised carrots, rice noodles, and plenty of crunchy onion and cilantro over the top. After a tough (read: mind numbing) day at Saturday Chinese school there was nothing better!

It’s one of those dishes that seems simple–spicy beef soup, right?–but that you know must be more complex given how flavorful and delicious it is when you’re enjoying the best possible version of it.  

And, indeed, Bo Kho is flavored with chili, five-spice, fish sauce, lemongrass, plenty of garlic, and tomato. Its familiar red color comes from the addition of fragrant annatto, which imparts a distinctive red color! You can use or make annatto oil if you can get your hands on it, but for this recipe, I’ve used ground annatto powder and my homemade chili oil to get that spicy flavor.

Bo Kho at its most basic is considered a “beef stew,” given it can be prepared as a soup or a thicker stew, but to me, I always consider it more of a soup. It can also be served with rice or French bread, but we like it served with noodles! You can use rice noodles (“rice sticks” if you’re familiar with Vietnamese restaurant parlance) or egg noodles, too, if that’s your preference!

Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew with Noodles

Let’s start!

For the beef:

  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or brisket cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2½ teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar

For the rest of the stew:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3-inch lengths (after removing any tough woody parts)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, minced (after removing any tough woody parts)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 cups of pure coconut water/juice
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8 large carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into 1½ -inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons homemade chili oil, or to taste
  • wide rice noodles or egg noodles
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Thai basil leaves
  • Thinly sliced raw onion
  • Lime wedges
Bo Kho

First marinate the beef. Combine the beef with the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, five-spice powder, and brown sugar until each piece is evenly coated. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Bo Kho

Next, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the stalks of lemongrass and allow them to infuse the oil for 1 minute. Next, add the minced lemongrass and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.

Bo Kho

Add the onions and cook until translucent.

Bo Kho
Bo Kho

Then add all of the beef to the pot, and brown evenly on all sides.

Bo Kho

Add the tomato paste.

Bo Kho

Stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the water, coconut water, star anise, ground black pepper, chili powder, annatto, and paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 1 hour.

After an hour has passed, add the carrots, salt, soy sauce, and chili oil. Simmer for another 40 minutes.

To serve, remove the large lemongrass stalks and any star anise pods you can fish out. Cook your noodles per package instructions, transfer to bowls, and ladle the soup over the top.

Garnish with cilantro, Thai basil, and raw onion, and serve with some lime wedges on the side.

Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew
Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew

Try this delicious Bo Kho recipe. It’s an awesome Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew Noodle Soup!

Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew
Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew

Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew with Noodles

Bo Kho is a spicy and flavorful Vietnamese beef stew that makes a pretty epic bowl of noodle soup. Bho Kho is a nice change to the usual bowl of pho noodles

Prep Time40 mins

Cook Time2 hrs 20 mins

Total Time3 hrs

Course: Beef

Cuisine: Asian

Keyword: bo kho

Servings: 8

Calories: 615kcal

Author: Kaitlin

Ingredients

For the beef:

  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or brisket (cut into 1½-inch chunks)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger (minced)
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2½ teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar

For the rest of the stew:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (cut into 3-inch lengths, after removing any tough woody parts)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (minced, after removing any tough woody parts)
  • 8 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 onion (sliced thinly)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups pure coconut water/juice
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8 large carrots (peeled and cut on the bias into 1½ -inch chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chili oil (or to taste)
  • wide rice noodles or egg noodles
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Thinly sliced raw onion
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  • First marinate the beef. Combine the beef with the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, five-spice powder, and brown sugar until each piece is evenly coated. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Next, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the stalks of lemongrass and allow them to infuse the oil for 1 minute. Next, add the minced lemongrass and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add all of the beef to the pot, and brown evenly on all sides. Add the tomato paste.
  • Stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the water, coconut water, star anise, ground black pepper, chili powder, annatto, and paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 1 hour.
  • After an hour has passed, add the carrots, salt, soy sauce, and chili oil. Simmer for another 40 minutes.
  • To serve, remove the large lemongrass stalks and any star anise pods you can fish out. Cook your noodles per package instructions, transfer to bowls, and ladle the soup over the top.
  • Garnish with cilantro, Thai basil, and raw onion, and serve with some lime wedges on the side.

Nutrition

Calories: 615kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 946mg | Potassium: 1059mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 10945IU | Vitamin C: 10.6mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 5.3mg

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