Food made with love in a Vietnamese mom's kitchen.

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

My husband really enjoys my Vietnamese beef stew.  We usually eat it with a baguette or pho rice noodles.  Since he can’t have gluten, I usually make the pho rice noodle version for him.  He just absolutely loves it.

So, my mom gave me this recipe.  But heck, I’ve been searching online for other people’s recipes and it’s nothing like anyone else makes.  Most people only add lemongrass to their stew.  My mom adds a slew of stuff, including ketchup.  I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good with the ketchup.  I’ve told my husband about other people’s recipes and he told me to “don’t even think about it”.  Well, I’m the cook in the family, so, experimenting I shall!

I usually garnish the stew with sliced red onion.  Recently, however, my husband decided he wants fried shallots instead.  I sprinkled some home fried shallots on his stew.  While he was eating, I asked him how it was.  He looked at me, told me to let him eat.  When he was done, he said, “It was FANTASTIC!”.  Ah…so that’s why you didn’t want to talk.

My recipe below will be the stovetop cooking method.  This method will require about 1.5-2 hrs. of cooking to get the beef flank to be tender.  But the time varies, depending on how tender you want the beef flank to be.

Otherwise, if you have a pressure cooker, this could be done within fifty minutes and you don’t have to tend to it.  If you’re using a pressure cooker, marinate the meet as per recipe.  Dump everything into the pressure cooker, except for the carrots and potatoes.  Manual on high for twenty minutes.  Do a quick release.  Add the carrots and potatoes and set manual on high for another fifteen minutes.  Then, do a quick release.

A quick note about galangal and ginger.  They look very much alike, but their taste is totally different.  The hardiness of these roots is also different.  Ginger is softer than galangal.  You’re going to need a tough knife to slice through the galangal.

Visually, here’s the difference between galangal and ginger.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need.

Ingredients for Vietnamese beef stew
Ingredients for Vietnamese beef stew

And this is the beef flank, for those who are unfamiliar.

Flank steak used for Vietnamese beef stew
Drop flank steak used for Vietnamese beef stew
Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo kho)

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

Tasty Vietnamese beef stew that you can eat with noodles or baguette.


Beef shank/trip marinade:

  • 2 lb beef drop flank steak and/or strip - cubed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Bo Kho seasoning
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce

Fragrant ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion - cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 4 stalks lemongrass - bruised (use white part only)

Combine the following ingredients into a spice pouch or wrap in cheesecloth:

  • 5-6 star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 1/4 inch thick slices of ginger
  • 5 1/4 inch thick slices of galangal

Stew ingredients:

  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 can coco coconut soda (or coconut water)


  • 2-3 carrots - cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 red potatoes - cut into 1-inch chunks optional

Serve with:

  • garnish with sliced red onion
  • Thai basil
  • lime wedges
  • baguette or pho noodles


  1. Marinate the beef cubes with ketchup, salt, sugar, and fish sauce.  Set aside for 30 minutes.

  2. In a large pot, heat one Tbsp vegetable oil on medium-high heat.

  3. Add the garlic and onion and saute for one minute.

  4. Add the marinated beef and brown the meat.

  5. Pour in the beef broth and coconut soda (or coconut water)

  6. Drop the pouch of spices to the stew.

  7. Reduce the heat to medium and put the lid on the pot, but leave a little opening so some steam can escape.

  8. Simmer and constantly skim the top to remove impurities while cooking for about 1-2 hours, depending on how tender you want the meat.

  9. Twenty minutes before it's done, add the carrots and potatoes and cook until the vegetables are done.

  10. Serve with Thai basil, lime wedge, and baguette or pho noodles.


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