Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bo Kho - Vietnamese Beef Stew (Crockpot version)

Bo Kho is a common dish in Vietnamese cuisine that if often eaten with bread, rice, and even noodles.  It is a hearty beef stew full of carrots, potatoes, and onions that is both filling and comforting to eat.  This recipe was made with my slow cooker so that I could set it and forget about it.  There are recipes out there for this dish using a stove top pot but why not exercise the old slow cooker if you have it!

I found all of my ingredients at T&T supermarket but if you do not have one near where you live, your nearest Asian grocery market should have all of these items.

My slow cooker is a standard one from Costco which I believe measures around 6 quartz.  
Here are the list of ingredients that you will need.

1. Meats:
- 1.5lbs of beef bones/ox tail/short ribs/ or any type of meat with bone for maximum flavour
- 2 lbs of stewing beef (I just bought two small packages from Superstore)

2. Vegetables:
- 1 knob of ginger (about the size of your thumb) cut into thick slices
- 2-5 stalks of carrot (cut into 2" chunks)
- 1 potato (cut into 2" chunks)
- 1 large onion (cut into 2" chunks)
- 3 stalks for lemongrass, bruised to release flavouring
- 1 can of tomato paste (6oz)

3. Spices/other
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2-4 star anise (they come in varying sizes so use more if they are small)
- 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbl annatto seeds 

Don't worry if you haven't seen or heard of some of these spices before.  I had to look it up before I went to the supermarket to figure out what they were!  The two that stumped me (but I was able to find both at T&T Supermarket) was star anise and annatto seeds.

Star anise
Annatto seeds

Prepare the beef for the slow cooker by browning your selected beef bones and stewing beef in a non-stick pan with a little bit of olive oil.  This will help bring out the flavour during the slow cooking process. I used a small pan so I did them up in batches so that there was just one layer of meat each time.

Place the browned meat into the slow cooker

Prepare your vegetables & spices and set aside.

Pour the flour over the browned meat in the slow cooker and stir to ensure all of the meat is covered with the flour. This will help thicken the broth

Add your onion, tomato paste, ginger slices, bruised lemongrass, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, Chinese 5-spice powder, salt, and fish sauce, into the slow cooker.

 A separate treatment is needed for the annatto seeds to bring out that red colour to the stew.  Put the annatto seats into a deep bowl and about 1/2 cup of water.  Microwave it for about a minute for the colour to be released into the water.  Add the water to the slow cooker but be sure to discard the annatto seeds... they are not edible!

We are almost there!  Fill up the slow cooker with water (leave about 2" of room from the top for the carrots & potatoes to be added later) and set for 2 hours on high.

After the two hours, add the carrots & potatoes and set on high for another 4 hours.  After this, it should look something like this :)

Enjoy with bread, rice, or noodles! There's a Vietnamese bakery on Kingsway where I like to buy fresh French bread to accompany this dish (  They bake their bread in house each day and smells delicious in there.  They also have some of the best Vietnamese sandwiches in Vancouver!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know how it turns out!


  1. i actually try this recipe once when i visited my husband neighborhood ,even tried to cook it (my mother inlaw thought me) well its really delicous and very tasty meal indeed

  2. I'll be trying it this weekend. :)