The ultimate comfort food, usually served for breakfast in Vietnam as it is spicy and sensual with star anise, cumin, cloves and chilli to wake any senses. Bò Kho is usually eaten with a fresh baguette, the sauce is perfect for dipping and scooping or it can also be served over cold flat rice noodles (hủ tiếu) or vermicelli (bún) with beansprouts, plenty of fresh herbs and the essential squeeze of lime for a perfect fresh zingy balance.
Vietnamese food is brilliant at being light and fresh. Despite the richness of the stew, it is contrasted and balanced with fresh, crunchy ingredients – making every morsel tasty and diverse!
This beef stew must have been inspired by the French boeuf bourguignon! as it is slowly cooked with all its ingredients humming away. Water or coconut juice is usually used but I decided to add cider which seemed to work perfectly. If you were going to use coconut juice, then add less sugar as the juice is usually sweet already.
Ingredients – serves 4
1 tsp annatto seeds
2 tsp dried crushed chilli
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground clove
12 star anise
1 bay leaf
450g braising beef, beef tendons or rib cut into cubes or roughly bite sized
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 onion, chopped roughly
10g knob of ginger
200g chunks of carrots
200g chunks of potatoes
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
400ml cider (or coconut juice, but reduce sugar)
100ml chicken/ beef stock
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
3 tbs premium fish sauce
4 lime wedges
Accompaniment – optional 70g dry rice noodles per person or Fresh warm baguette (even buttered toast works)
In a hot pot with some oil, add the anatto seeds. The red-ish colour will release after a couple of minutes. Pour the oil into a bowl and discard the seeds.
In the same pot, sweat the onion then turn to high heat and add the beef to brown off on all sides. You may need to do this several times, the meat will not brown if there isn’t enough space. Use a bowl to place the portion you have already browned off then bring back together into the pot.
Once all the meat is browned, mix the spices in to the meat: cumin, chilli, paprika and clove then pour in the cider and stock, adding a bay leaf, the garlic, star anise, ginger, lemongrass and the annatto oil.
Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes then add the potatoes and carrots and season with salt, fish sauce and sugar. Cook for a further 30 minutes on medium/ low heat with the lid on. Depending on the cut of the beef, cooking time may vary. Make sure the beef is tender but still has a bite to it.
Adjust the taste to your palette. Serve hot with warm baguette or over rice noodles and garnishes.