Bo Kho: Vietnamese Beef Stew with Noodles

Bo Kho: Vietnamese Beef Stew with Noodles

The first time I ever had Bo Kho was in a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida. My expectations were not high. My good friend and I ventured out on a stormy Florida evening in search of some brothy comfort food. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I strayed from my go-to order of Pho and ordered something I’ve never tried before: Bo Kho. This stew made such a lasting memory that 13 years later I still think of it. I’ve searched every Vietnamese restaurant menu in my area looking for this stew and I have yet to find it. Last week I decided I’m going to wander into the uncharted waters of Vietnamese cooking and give this a go. It was a delicious bowl of uniquely spiced beef stew, flavors of cinnamon, paprika, lime all swirling around on my palate. The ingredient list looks intimidating but I promise it’s surprisingly easy to make.

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly minced ginger
  • 5 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut sugar

Stew Ingredients:

  •  2 1/2 pounds beef roast (I used an arm roast but any cut will do) cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • Avocado oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass cut into 3-inch lengths (after removing woody parts)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass minced, removing woody parts
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced very thin
  • 4 tbsp tomato paoste
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups pure coconut water (make sure ingredients list says 100% coconut water, no other ingredients added)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8 large carrots cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp bagg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • Chili oil to taste
  • Rice sticks or rice noodles, found in international aisle of grocery store

Garnish Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced raw onion
  • Lime Wedges


  • In a large bowl combine all the marinade ingredients along with the cubed beef. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Next, heat 3 tablespoons of avocado oil in a large stock pot. Add the stalks of lemongrass (or lemon grass paste) and simmer for 1 minute. Add the minced lemongrass and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add all of the marinated beef to the pot, browning on all sides.
  • Add in the tomato paste.
  • Stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the water, coconut water, star anise, ground black pepper, chili powder, and paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
  • After an hour has passed, add the carrots, salt, bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce, and chili oil to taste (1-3 tbsp if using). Simmer for another 40 minutes.
  • Remove the large lemongrass stalks and any star anise pods.
  • Cook your noodles per package instructions, transfer to bowls, and ladle the soup over the top.
  • Garnish with cilantro, basil raw onion, and a lime wedge

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