Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)


Baguette and bò kho are great meal partners, but you also can serve the stew over pasta — try it over boiled egg noodles or rice noodles (select pappardelle-size noodles, such as A Taste of Thai brand). Add a green salad for a complete meal.

Viet Beef Stew with Star Anise and Lemongrass
Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
4 to 6


  • 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

  • 3 ounces lemongrass stalks (2 large or 3 medium stalks), trimmed, cut into 3-inch pieces, and gently smashed with a mallet or heavy saucepan

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (such as Three Crabs), plus more to taste

  • 2 teaspoons light or dark brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

  • 1/4 cup canola oil or other neutral oil (such as grapeseed), divided

  • 1 cup chopped shallots or yellow onion

  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

  • 3 1/2 cups water

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, mint, or basil


  1. Toss together beef, lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, and five-spice in a large bowl. Let beef marinate at room temperature 30 minutes.

  2. Heat a Dutch oven over high until very hot; add 1 tablespoon oil. Remove one-third of beef from marinade, and add to Dutch oven. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned on 2 to 3 sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer seared beef to a plate. Repeat process twice with 2 tablespoons oil and remaining beef, reserving marinade in bowl. (If there is excessive browning on bottom of Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium.)

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallots, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, star anise, bay leaf, and salt. Bring mixture to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces and thickens slightly, 12 to 14 minutes.

  4. Return beef and accumulated juices on plate to Dutch oven; stir in reserved beef marinade. Cook, stirring often, until tomato mixture thickens and coats beef, about 5 minutes. Stir in water; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until beef yields slightly when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  5. Skim and discard fat from surface of stew. Stir carrots into stew; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, until beef and carrots are tender and sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes.

  6. Taste stew; if needed, add more fish sauce or salt to intensify flavor, or add a few splashes of water to lighten flavors. Remove and discard lemongrass, star anise, and bay leaf. Divide stew among shallow bowls; sprinkle with cilantro.

If fresh lemongrass isn't available where you shop, substitute 1/4 cup store-bought lemongrass paste, which is more widely available. Unlike fresh lemongrass, which is very tough and fibrous, you don't have to remove the paste version before serving. Crushed tomatoes are usually available in 28-ounce cans, which each contain about 3 1/2 cups. No use for the leftovers? Start from a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes; strain and save the juices for Bloody Marys, pulse the tomatoes in a food processor, and measure out the 1 1/2 cups needed for the recipe.

Make Ahead

This stew develops fabulous flavor when made 1 or 2 days ahead. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

Suggested Pairing

Spicy, light-bodied red: 2016 Feudo di Santa Tresa Frappato.

Related Articles