I grew up eating bo kho more than I ate pho, but if you’re new to Vietnamese cuisine, you probably don’t hear of it often. It is a flavorful, tender beef stew with carrots paired with a French baguette. Although my mom doesn’t eat beef, she always made it for my family and if that didn’t scream love; I don’t know what does.
When I met Jon-Michael, he told me that his favorite Vietnamese dish was bo kho. He told me stories about how he rode his moped for miles to a little alley where this old man sold the best bo kho in Saigon. He would order take away and the hot soup would be wrapped in a plastic bag hanging on the side of the handle bar of the moped, burning the side of his leg as he drove home. But all was worth it for this magical soup – rain, shine, or hungover.
Every time JM visits my family in NorCal, my mom would make bo kho because she knew that he loved it. In return, he always made sure to eat at least two full bowls to show his love. If you know anything about Vietnamese mothers, their love language is food. I’m pretty sure that’s where I’ve adopted it from. One particularly rough week, to show JM some love – I decided to make bo kho for my favorite roomie. I used the Instant Pot to get the quickest and most tender results, but this recipe can definitely be done on stove top as well! JM loved the bo kho I made and gave it a 9.6 rating – coming from the toughest bo kho critic, I think that’s a win! If you got someone you want to show love and appreciation to, this would be the perfect recipe for you!
Bo Kho with Oxtail
I N G R E D I E N T S :
- 2-2.5 lb Beef Shank
- 2 Oxtail
- 4-5 Carrots
- 2 Stalks of Lemongrass
- 1 Large White Onion, divided
- 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 4-5 Tbsp of Ga Vi Bo Kho (Kim Tu Tap – Pyramide brand)
- 1.5 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 6 Tbsp Fish Sauce, divided
- 1 Can Coco Rico
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 6 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp Monk Fruit Sweetener
- 1 Beef Bullion Cube
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth
- Water – fill up IP till meat is covered
- 3 Tbsp Oil Annato Seeds + Oil
T O O L S:
- Instant Pot (not necessary, see nganstoptips)
I N S T R U C T I O N S :
- Parboil the beef shank in a pot of water for 10 minutes to make slicing easier
- Slice up the parboiled beef shank a cut it up into pieces. Add to a bowl with the oxtail and add 2 tbsp of the Bo Kho seasoning. Add an extra tbsp if needed to cover all of the meat in seasoning.
- Slice up half the white onion and add to the bowl of beef.
- Add 3 tbsp of fish sauce and then massage the seasoning into the meat and mix until everything combined.
- Cover and marinate meat in fridge for 1 hour – overnight. (I marinated from 1pm-5pm)
- Cut up carrots to roughly 1.5-2 inches long. Add one cup of water into the inner pot, then add carrots to a steamer basket and cook on High Pressure for 3 minutes, Natural Release for 3 minutes, then quick release. Set aside. Dump out the water, rinse and put inner pot back into the IP.
- Put your shiitake mushrooms in a cup of water and let it rehydrate.
- Mince your garlic and slice the remaining half of your onion. Use the bottom half of the lemongrass stalk and cut into 3, 1-inch long stalks. Take the back of your knife and beat on the lemongrass to bruise it up.
- Add oil to pot and turn on the saute setting. Add garlic, lemongrass, bay leaf and onions – stirring until fragrant. Add in the remainder 2 tbsp of Bo Kho Ga Vi seasoning and mix until onions wilt.
- Add the marinated beef, oxtail and onions into the pot and cook until all onions have wilted and have become caramelized. Move the meat and onions to the side to add the tomato paste to the bottom of the pan. Let tomato paste cook for 2 minutes and then stir everything to combine tomato paste with meat.
- Add the remaining 3 tbsp of fish sauce, and stir pots’ ingredients to combine again.
- Pour in the can of Coco Rico, chicken broth and then fill the pot with water so that all the meat is submerged.
- Squeeze out excess water in the mushrooms, and add in the pot along with the cube of beef bullion.
- Cook on High Pressure for 22 minutes, allow it to naturally release for 20 minutes, then quick release. Stir in the cooked carrots and add salt/pepper as you see fit. (I did not need additional seasoning).
- To make the annato seed oil, add oil and annato seeds together in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Add the oil to the stew based on your preference.
- Garnish with cilantro and thinly sliced onions.
- Traditionally bo kho is made with tendon as well – however JM isn’t a fan so I omitted it from the recipe. Tendon does take longer to cook, so you can follow the recipe omitting the meat at first and cooking the tendon on high pressure for 5 minutes. Then adding the meat in and cooking it for the remaining 22 mins.
- This can be done on the stovetop as well, simply do all the same steps, except instead of cooking it on high pressure – you let the soup simmer for 1.5 hours until the beef is tender.
- Instead of baguettes, this stew can be eaten with rice or noodles as well. To eliminate the carb, JM and I actually just ate it as a stew and it was still delicious!
- TSA Approved?: Not all good things can be shared abroad. This beef stew is mainly soup and TSA will have none of that. Don’t bother taking it with you – but if you want to stop by my house I’d gladly make it for you to enjoy.