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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

if there ever was a time for me to tackle a seriously spice laden dish like bò kho, it was definitely this winter. it's been a brutal winter, the coldest in the 7 years that i've lived in Baltimore. and now that i think about it, this deep reddish-brown beef stew was usually made in the heart of winter when i was kid. my grandmother would make a massive pot to eat with french bread. i always picked the soft insides of the bread to dip into the stew and grandfather would have the crunchy outside. we were a good team like that.

when wandering chopsticks posted her recipe for bò kho i figured i'd give it a shot. my token vietnamese cookbook has the recipe too but i found it to be lacking in a few steps. i admit to being quite lost in the spice aisle at the new asian market. one would think that all spices would be in one area. no. i found the 5 spice and star anise in another aisle while i was randomly searching for something else. I KNOW! so annoying. i started the stew friday night but i didn't dig in till Saturday night. with banh pho noodles. which brings up the question, what is the proper noodle to eat with bò kho? i always thought it was with hủ tiếu noodles but i completely forgot to look for them at the store. then i read somewhere egg noodles were ok and i swear, my mom served it with banh pho noodles, which was what i had handy at home. voilà.

Bo Kho



Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
adapted from Wandering Chopsticks

1 lb beef stew meat
1 lb beef neck bones
1 tblsp annatto seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
2 inch knob ginger, cut into big slices
1 Stick of cinnamon
3 Star anise
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
2 tsp Bò Kho powder (i was soooo tempted to take this short cut...)
2 tblsp fish sauce
2 tsp salt
6 oz can tomato sauce (i didn't have paste...)
carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (i think i used 4)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
(i didn't add the potatoes)

bo kho



In a large pot on high heat, add 1 tblsp of annatto seeds to some oil. The seeds turn the oil a rich red color. When the oil is the desired color, coop out the seeds and discard. Meanwhile, sprinkle the flour over the beef and bones. Pan fry the meat until all sides are brown. Do in batches because if you just throw all the meat in the pot, it just steams the meat. When done, put all the meat in the pot, add any leftover flour, it'll thicken the stew. Next, basically add all the other ingredients, except for the carrots, into the pot, pour water in till it's 3/4 full. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about an hour. After the hour has elapsed, throw in the carrots. Simmer. Simmer some more. this dish is best the next day. and then the next. be sure to take out the cinnamon, lemongrass, bay leaf and star anise before serving. i've had bò kho for dinner and lunch since Saturday: with rice, with bread, and with noodles. i love it. :)

bo kho 2



today's song: Tracy Chapman, For You





13 comments:

  1. I really need to cook more. sigh. this looks and sounds delicious!

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  2. This looks wonderful. It's been pretty awful up here in Boston too. This dish would be just great this time of year!

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  3. Love that top picture. This looks delicious, and now I'm starving.

    PS I also now want to get to an Asian market (weird organization and all!)

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  4. AA
    Great looking dish,you know I don't think that there is a right noodle for this dish. Although I have seen Bo Kho served with egg noodles, I have also seen it served with hu tieu, and when hu tieu wasn't present than there was banh pho. So the quest for the right noodle to serve with Bo Kho begins. I prefer egg noodles however.
    Cheers

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  5. Looks great. Makes me want to make another pot, but the weather's been too nice to eat bo kho for a week.

    Bo kho with egg noodles? I like it with bread. And I've seen it with both banh pho and hu tieu.

    Why aren't all the spices in one aisle? Like the spice aisle?

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  6. Monica - this is one of those dishes that you can just assemble into a pot and forget about it. that is my kind of dish/preparation.

    Fearless Kitchen - it is the ultimate dead of winter dish. not only because it warms you but because personally, it reminds me of my grandparents and that in itself warms me to my core! :)

    Shannalee - thanks! i think i freak my roommate out when i scramble all over the abode looking for the best lighting to take pictures of food. :) going to an asian market is an event. they always have the most random things and i have to say my favorite aisle is where they sell their dishes and spoons. i allow myself ONE treat everytime i go, i will eventually have so many random knick knack and mismatched plates and forks, but they make for the best props! get yourself to one pronto, you won't be disappointed.

    houstonwok - i think overall, noodles in general are great but for this dish, i've decided that i like it best with french bread. :)

    WC - it's a new market that caters to the asian and hispanic population and i think there might be some communication issues? either way, i just wander the aisles gawking at everything. i'm sure the next time i'm there everything will be all sorts of jumbled again! thanks so much for posting your bo kho recipe. :)

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  7. i love how it looks so yummy with the pho noodles! your version looks a little more thicker than WC's, do you think using tomato sauce in place of tomato paste made a difference?

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  8. hi Deanna,
    that's a great question.
    i think that it may have played a part in making the sauce thicker but i'm partial to thick sauces that encourage bread dipping or drizzling over rice. so had used paste as WC did, i would've still added some kind of liquid to ensure the thick sauce.

    when i cook, i tend to make sure there's ample sauce/gravy for such tendencies.

    thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  9. hi Deanna,
    that's a great question.
    i think that it may have played a part in making the sauce thicker but i'm partial to thick sauces that encourage bread dipping or drizzling over rice. so had used paste as WC did, i would've still added some kind of liquid to ensure the thick sauce.

    when i cook, i tend to make sure there's ample sauce/gravy for such tendencies.

    thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  10. i love how it looks so yummy with the pho noodles! your version looks a little more thicker than WC's, do you think using tomato sauce in place of tomato paste made a difference?

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  11. This looks wonderful. It's been pretty awful up here in Boston too. This dish would be just great this time of year!

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  12. Why are you so angry?

    On a serious note - I <3 Bo Kho!!!

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  13. If the sauce is too thin, you can always thicken it with bit of corn starch. I use half water half beef broth for a richer robust flavor. Some recipe I've seen use some curry powder and some shallots which I've tried and it's nice touch also. Whatever you can add just enhances the dish.

    I like ginger and star anise so I add little more than recipe. And we just got a wolfgang puck pressure cooker from HSN and my god the bho kho was over the top. It only took an hour but the meat was soooo much more tenderized and the flavors were really intense. If you can find a decent digital pressure on ebay it's worth it just for this recipe alone.

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