Vietnamese beef stew, or bò kho, is a fragrantly spiced version of a familiar dish. It can be served with rice, a fresh baguette or noodles (my favorite method of eating them) and makes for a really easy and warming Vietnamese noodle soup dish.
Traditionally this stew is slow-simmered on the stove until the beef is fork tender. I like to cook this in a crockpot for an easy, hands-off approach. However, I still brown the meat on the stove to lock in the flavor before slow cooking. I find that if you just dump everything in a slow cooker first the stew comes out a little flat tasting. I’ll include instructions for stove top cooking if you don’t have a slow cooker.
Beef choices for bò kho
My all time favorite cut of beef for this dish is beef rough flank or beef outside flank. It’s an extremely tough cut of meat with tons of silver skin and tendon. Since this dish is slow simmered/cooked in a slow cooker, all that sinew will become tender and provide a delicious textural contrast to the fall apart beef.
If you can’t find rough flank or you don’t like tendon, feel free to use stew meat or chuck in its place. You will need to adjust the amount of time you cook the stew for, however. Stew meat/chuck will cook faster than this flank. I highly recommend you try the rough flank!
Crock pot Vietnamese beef stew (bò kho): Step-by-step instructions
You will need some bò kho bouillon for the beef marinade. My favorite brand is Bao Long, seen below. You can get this at any Asian grocery store or on Amazon!
Dissolve a packet of this bouillon in some water and add it to your chopped beef pieces along with garlic, shallot, salt, pepper, fish sauce and ground lemongrass. You can grind your own lemongrass in a food processor or buy it frozen from an Asian grocery store. Let the meat marinate for at least least half an hour or up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook the bò kho, add all of the beef and marinade into a heavy bottomed pot on high heat and sear. Add tomato paste to the beef at this point and cook until the liquid has reduced.
Once the liquid has reduced, add your meat cubes to your slow cooker and add just enough water to submerge the beef. You don’t want the stew to be too watery.
Cook the stew on high for 4-6 hours until the beef is fork tender. Add peeled and chopped carrots during the last half hour of cooking.
I like to eat this with pho noodles. The starchy noodles thicken the broth and make it even more rich and stew-like. If we don’t have noodles, my family will also dip fresh baguette into the broth.
Cooking bò kho on the stove top
If you don’t have a slow cooker or prefer to cook this on the stove, follow all of the same steps up until you transfer the meat into the slow cooker. Add water directly into the pan instead and bring it to a boil before reducing to a light simmer.
You’ll need to add more water as
Crock Pot Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho)
- 1.5 lbs beef rough flank or beef chuck/stew meat, cubed
- 3 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 package bo kho bouillon, dissolved into a paste with a about 1 tbsp of water
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups water
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch segments
- Mix beef with lemongrass, fish sauce, salt, black pepper, garlic, shallot and bouillon. Let marinate for at least 30 min or overnight up to 24 hours
- Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat. Add beef (along with the marinade) and brown.
- Add tomato paste and continue to cook beef until liquid has reduced.
- Transfer beef to slow cooker and add just enough water to cover the beef (for me, this was three cups)
- Cook on high heat for 4-6 hours until beef is tender. This will take longer if you're using rough flank and shorter for other cuts of beef.
- During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add chopped carrots
- Serve with rice, bread or noodles