Monday, April 16, 2012

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Thịt Bò Kho)

My family recently compiled a digital cookbook with some of their very best recipes, some of which are Vietnamese dishes (surprise!). We are fairly open-minded when it comes to food and I think the book actually features more non-Vietnamese dishes but they all look quite good. Of course I submitted a few recipes, most of which I've written about here.

Speaking of family, one of my aunts asked me if I wanted to have a cooking lesson from her because she felt it was her time to be featured in this blog. This was all to happen during the Easter weekend a couple weeks ago but plans were all changed and our next family get together will be sometime in May. So, I found her recipe for Vietnamese Beef Stew in our cookbook and set forth for ingredients.

My second helping! First helping eaten before pictures were taken.

Let's get something straight here, everyone in my family has their own speciality and this is one of Di Huong's. So this is the real deal here. I can't actually remember having this a lot growing up (my mom might scold me for this and tell me we ate it all the time) but the last time we had it at Thanksgiving, it was delicious! We ate it out of styrofoam cups (don't ask) and mopped up the sauce with crusty French bread. This time, I had just made fresh Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls) with salmon so I had a lot of vermicelli leftover which I decided to try with it. I wondered how it would be possible that a stew with vermicelli would taste better than French bread. Well, it really does work quite nicely though I can't say it's better than fluffy bread...

I will give you the true recipe, but I added in some sweet potatoes, and probably did some other things that would mark me as a bad nephew cooking apprentice. The sweet potatoes were good though! Also this recipe is definitely Vietnamese family sized. I used about half the amount of beef (although mostly the same measurements for everything else) and the two of us were eating Bò Kho for days.

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Thịt Bò Kho), From Bác Hương
Printable Recipe


2 pounds of stewing beef or beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 stalks fresh lemon grass or Tbs dried lemon grass
2 fresh chile peppers, seeded and minced
Black pepper
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp curry powder
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp veg oil
1 med onion, chopped
6 gloves garlic, minced
2 med carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
¼ cup tomato paste
2 med-potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small daikon or 2 med turnips, peeled and cut into1-inch chunks
This is after we ate a couple servings...

If you are using fresh lemon grass, discard the outer leaves and upper half of the stalk. Slice paper thin and chop very fine. If you are using dried lemon grass, soak in warm water for 1 hour. Drain and finely chop.

In a bowl, combine the beef with the lemon grass, chiles, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, curry powder, fish sauce, black pepper, and 1 tsp salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Heat 2 Tbs oil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat. Add the beef and marinade and stir quickly to sear, about 2 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs oil to the saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes. Add the beef, star anise, the remaining 1 tsp salt and 4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until beef is tender, about 1-1/2 hours.

Add the carrots and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue simmering for 10 minutes longer. Add the daikon and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve with rice noodles or with French baguette.

Obviously this would have been much nicer had we could have done some cooking in person but she recently was visiting Montréal with her daughter who is considering going to McGill. Naturally, I told her I would keep her well fed!

i guess i got my swagger back