Are you looking for a beef recipe that’s a bit more interesting than your regular ol’ stew? This highly aromatic Vietnamese Beef Stew will quickly become your favourite comfort food! Tender slow-cooked beef in a rich and incredibly flavourful gravy – this stew is easy to make on the stove/oven or your slow cooker. In partnership with [yellow tail]
You will also love my Chunky Beef Casserole
Posted October 2014 | Updated November 2019
When I first posted this Vietnamese Beef Stew recipe, I had no idea it would become THE most popular recipe on this blog… I am thrilled to partner with [ yellow tail ] wines to update this post with even more expert tips, a step by step tutorial and a brand new video!
[yellow tail] believe that great quality wine can be affordable and good fun too – hey, there’s a philosophy I can get behind! Their wines are full of flavour and so drinkable – I am proud to be part of their Partners in Wine campaign to help bring happiness to the table.Is there anything better or more comforting than a slow-cooked stew when the temperature drops and the days grow shorter? Casseroles, stews, curries and pot roasts – they are good for the soul. The fact that they require little effort and minimal washing up doesn’t hurt either.
This Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho) is, hands down, my favourite slow-cooked wonder. After some initial prep work, you can simply sit back and enjoy a glass of wine chatting with your friends while your kitchen is flooded with the most mouthwatering aroma.
What is Bo Kho?
Bo Kho is not your average beef casserole! It is a delicious Vietnamese pot-roasted beef stew with tomatoes and carrots that’s fragrant with lemongrass, star anise and cinnamon. Soy and fish sauce add rich umami flavours in the gravy and the slow cooking results in fall-apart tender meat.
Even though it may sound exotic, Bo Kho is quite similar to French beef stews in the way it is made. Once you take a bite you will be hooked, mark my words! It is such an amazingly fragrant and comforting dish that, like most stews, tastes even better the day after its made.
Ingredients in Vietnamese Beef Stew
Here’s what you will need to make traditional Bo Kho. Some ingredients that are typical in Vietnamese cooking used to be a little harder to source, but these days you can find them in most major supermarkets! If you have any ethnic shops nearby they are almost sure to carry these at a cheaper price.
- Beef (obvs!) – but which beef cut is best for stews? Look for beef that is suitable for slow cooking, such as braising steak, brisket, chuck, shin or even oxtail. I love using braising steak or beef shin in this recipe. The additional marinating will tenderise and add flavour to your meat. The long and slow cooking guarantees the beef will be melt-in-the-mouth tender by time you tuck in.
- Vegetables – Shallots, garlic, tomatoes and carrots are typical in Bo Kho. I like to add butternut squash to make this stew stretch further. The squash is added halfway through the cooking so that it doesn’t totally disintegrate into the stew.
- Aromatics – Lemongrass, cinnamon, star anise, Chinese Five Spice and kaffir lime leaves. All these are all typical in Vietnamese cuisine and easy to source with the exception, perhaps, of the lime leaves. Fresh kaffir lime leaves can be found in some big supermarkets but you can also use dried ones which are more widely available. If you can’t find any you can leave them out or use a little grated lime zest instead.
- Putting it all together – the stew also contains brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, beef stock and tomato paste. Green chilies add a little heat, but this is a gently spiced stew, mild enough for younger children to enjoy.
Maximum flavour, a little effort
To create the best beef stew this side of Julia Child you MUST brown your beef first. This is really the one non-negotiable step in most stews and casseroles. In this Vietnamese stew, the beef is marinated first with lemongrass, garlic, sugar, Chinese Five Spice, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper.
The beef cubes are then browned over high heat – hear that sizzle when it hits the pan! – until nicely coloured. Be patient and sear the meat in batches – if you crowd the pan then it will stew and not brown. You want to trigger the wonderful Maillard reaction – the chemical reaction involved in browning.
Any bits of browned beef that get stuck to your pan will add wonderful flavour into your stew. Deglaze the hot pan by adding some hot beef stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape all these bits of tasty goodness into your dish.
What wine goes with beef stew?
Many moons ago I was Art Editor of Wine Magazine… and wine and food matching was taken very seriously indeed and debated endlessly. Frankly it was a bit exhausting…
These days I am a bit more relaxed about it – I want wine that’s good quality but above all I want to enjoy it!
I find [yellow tail] Shiraz to be a perfect match for this aromatic beef stew – bold enough to stand up to the rich flavours, but lovely to also sip on its own. Who said good wine can’t be affordable as well? 😉
How to make Vietnamese Beef Stew
STEP 1. Prepare the lemongrass by removing the tougher outer leaves. Top and tail the lemongrass then finely chop in the tender inner stalk. Some people like to bash the stalk with the side of a knife to soften… feel free to take your aggression out this way.
STEP 2. Slice the beef into even cubes and remove any large bits of fat. Place in a bowl.
STEP 3. Add the lemongrass, garlic, sugar, Chinese Five Spice, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper to the beef. Stir to combine, cover and marinate for one hour.
STEP 4. Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Heat the vegetable oil in a large lidded casserole dish (Dutch Oven). Sear the beef, in batches, over medium high heat until nicely browned.
STEP 5. Add a splash of hot stock to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits with a wooden spoon.
STEP 6. Add the shallots and chillies and stir for a couple of minutes.
STEP 7. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, carrots, cinnamon stick, star anise, kaffir lime leaves and stock. Bring slowly to a rolling simmer.
STEP 8. Cover the casserole and transfer to the preheated oven. Set the timer and cook for an hour. Sip some wine while you wait 😉
STEP 9. Take the casserole dish out of the oven – careful it will be very hot! – and stir in the butternut squash. Cover and cook for another hour.
STEP 10. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, star anise and kaffir lime leaves. Stir in one tablespoon of cornflour diluted in cold water and simmer for a couple of minutes on the hob if you wish to thicken the stew further.
STEP 11. Add some chopped basil leaves, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with a crusty French baguette or over rice with a glass of [ yellow tail ] Shiraz!
Beef Stew tips, tricks and FAQs
Can I cook this recipe on the hob? Yes – simply simmer over low heat for two hours, adding the squash after one hour. Do check up on the liquid levels and top up with a little hot water if the pot is getting too dry.
Can I make this stew in my Instant Pot? You certainly can and it is so delicious that i have dedicated an entire post to it – see instructions for Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Stew here.
Can I make this stew in my Slow Cooker? Beef stew is easy to make in a CrockPot! Follow steps 1-5 then transfer the meat to your slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients, stir and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5. Add the cornflour slurry and cook, uncovered, on HIGH until the gravy thickens.
How long will this stew keep? You can keep the stew in the fridge for up to three days. Cool completely first then store in a suitable container. The flavours will actually intensify the longer you keep it.
Can I freeze Vietnamese beef stew? Absolutely! Cool and divide into suitable containers. Freeze and use within three months. Defrost overnight in the fridge or thaw in a microwave. Always make sure that reheated food is piping hot all the way through before serving.
HAVE YOU MADE MY VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW?
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One–pot Vietnamese Beef Stew
Beef and Marinade
- 900 g 2lb braising steak (chuck steak) cut into cubes
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 2 lemongrass stalks outer leaves removed, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce optional
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar
For the Stew
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil to sear beef
- 4 banana shallots peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 green chillies de seeded and finely chopped
- 4 large tomatoes chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 kaffir lime leaves fresh or dried
- 625 ml | 2 ½ cups hot beef stock
- 450 g | 1lb butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1 tbsp cornflour /cornstarch diluted in 1 tbsp cold water, to thicken
- Thai basil chopped to garnish
- salt and pepper to season if needed
- Combine the beef, lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, Chinese Spice, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Leave to marinate for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 160C (325F) and have all your vegetables prepared.
- Put the oil in the casserole and heat over medium high heat. Sear the beef, in batches if necessary, until nicely browned.
- Add a splash of hot stock to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits with a wooden spoon.
- Add the shallots and chillies and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, carrots, cinnamon stick, star anise, kaffir lime leaves and stock and bring slowly to a rolling simmer.
- Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for an hour.
- Take the casserole dish out of the oven - careful it will be very hot! - and stir in the butternut squash.
- Return to the oven and cook for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat is very tender.
- Stir the cornflour slurry into the stew and simmer for a couple of minutes on the hob to thicken the gravy.
- Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, star anise and kaffir lime leaves.
- Add some chopped basil leaves, check the seasoning and serve with crusty bread, or over rice..
Slow Cooker instructions
- Marinate and brown the beef as instructed above then transfer to your slow cooker.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
- Add the cornflour slurry and cook on HIGH, uncovered, until the gravy thickens.
- Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, star anise and kaffir lime leaves.
- Add some chopped basil leaves, check the seasoning and serve with crusty bread, or over rice.
- Can I make this stew in my Instant Pot? You certainly can and it is so delicious that I have dedicated an entire post to it.
- How long will this stew keep? You can keep the stew in the fridge for up to three days. Cool completely first then store in a suitable container. The flavours will actually intensify the longer you keep it.
- Can I freeze Vietnamese beef stew? Absolutely! Cool and divide into suitable containers. Freeze and use within three months. Defrost overnight in the fridge or thaw in a microwave. Always make sure that reheated food is piping hot all the way through before serving.
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