Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
My dad used to make his own version of bo kho – it followed the standard Vietnamese recipe but would resemble the American version with its thickness and addition of peas and corn (neither of which are typically found in the Vietnamese version). Every other version of bo kho I’ve had since then has been mediocre because the beef has been too tough, the stew too thin, etc.
So after pouring over a few Vietnamese cookbooks and going off my memory on my dad’s version (sometimes it’s easier not to ask him these things as he tends to get overly wordy), here is the bo kho I made a few weekends (sans peas and corn) for The Boy and my mom –
2 lbs beef, cubed
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon curry seasoning (you can buy this in Vietnamese stores)
dash of pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon of oil
4 cups of water (I actually used 3 cups of water and 1 cup of dry red wine)
1 large onion, chopped in large pieces (at least 1″)
2 bay leaves
4 star anise
6 small carrots (or 3 large ones), chopped in 1″ pieces
3 large potatoes, 1″ cube
1/2 cup of cilantro
In a bowl, add beef, fish sauce, cinnamon, curry seasoning, pepper and salt. Toss together until the beef is evenly coated. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to marinade.
In a large pot, add oil. When heated, add beef and cook until all sides are browned (the beef is pretty rare at this point). Add water, onion, bay leaves and star anise. Bring to a boil and then bring down to a simmer for about 45 minutes. Cover pot.
Add carrots and potatoes. Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft.
Stir in cilantro.
Serve with crusty french bread.
My mom’s Reaction: “This is like how your father made it!” [My parents are divorced and don’t have the most amicable relationship. She apparently misses his cooking though. Ha ha.]
The Boy’s Reaction: “I love beef stew” [picks star anise out of his bowl – I’ll have to figure out how to pluck those out before serving next time]