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Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho): Standing out among the world's 10 best stews

03/01/2024 5.659

In this article, we will delve into the history of Vietnamese beef stew, the unique ingredients that make it exceptional, and the cherished traditions surrounding its preparation and enjoyment.

Vietnamese beef stew

When Vietnam travel is mentioned, a vivid tapestry of images unfolds - from breathtaking landscapes to vibrant street markets, and of course, the alluring world of Vietnamese food. Among the culinary treasures of this captivating nation, Vietnamese beef stew shines as a radiant star. It has not only earned its place among the world's 10 best stews but also become a symbol of Vietnam's rich gastronomic culture.

1. A glance at the origin of Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho)

The origin of Vietnamese beef stew, or bo kho, can be traced back to many years ago. Originating in Southern Vietnam, it is now famous in all the three regions of the country, where it has come to be as much an iconic dining experience as it is a national favorite. This dish’s progress from being a home recipe to ranking amongst the tastiest stews in the world (according to TasteAtlas) reveals how delicious it is. This famous Vietnamese food is made with succulent beef cooked in a richly-flavored soup that brings together an array of spices. And not just popular among locals, Vietnamese beef stew has been recognized globally.

Vietnamese beef stew

2. Vietnamese beef stew recipe: A step-by-step cooking guide

2.1. Ingredients for bo kho

  • Beef: 600 grams
  • Salt: 2 teaspoons
  • MSG (optional, for flavoring): 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar: 1 tablespoon
  • Beef stew seasoning powder: 1 tablespoon
  • Annatto seed oil (or vegetable oil): 3 tablespoons
  • Cornstarch: 3 tablespoons
  • Ground black pepper: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Carrots, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, star anise
  • Finely chopped ginger, garlic, and shallots
Vietnamese beef stew

>>> Read more: Vietnamese Fish Sauce: The Hidden Secret To Luscious Dishes

2.2. Instructions to make bo kho

  • Prepare ingredients
    • Rub a mixture of white wine with ginger onto the beef. Then, rinse the beef thoroughly with cold water. Next, boil a small pot of water, blanch the beef briefly, and remove it immediately.
    • Cut the beef into square bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl. Marinate the beef with beef stew seasoning powder, salt, sugar, and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Mix well and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
    • Peel and wash the carrots, then slice them into pieces.
    • Remove the outer layers of lemongrass, wash it thoroughly, and lightly crush it.
    • Roast cinnamon and star anise until they become aromatic.
  • Cook:
    • Add a small amount of cooking oil into a pot. Wait for the oil to heat up, then add chopped ginger, garlic, and shallots. Sauté them until they become fragrant.
    • Add the marinated beef to the pot, stirring to make the meat firm. Then, add lemongrass and mix them together.
    • Pour water into the pot until it covers the meat, then add cinnamon and star anise. Cover the pot tightly and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.
    • Mix cornstarch with a bit of water. When the beef has become tender, pour the mix into the pot along with the carrots. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, then your Vietnamese beef stew will be ready.
Vietnamese beef stew

>>> Read more: Vietnam food list: 20 culinary delights you must try once in your life

3. Differences between Vietnamese beef stew in the North and South

Vietnamese beef stew showcases many intriguing regional variations within the diverse culinary landscapes of Vietnam. In the North, where hearty Northern Vietnamese food takes center stage, bo kho exhibits a simpler flavor profile. Here, spices are used less and sugar is often omitted, giving precedence to the umami-rich depth of MSG. The broth, thickened with cornstarch, resembles a hearty soup, emphasizing the dish's spiciness.

In contrast, the Southern variation of bo kho represents the vibrant culinary traditions of Southern Vietnam. It embraces a more complex blend of flavors. The broth leans towards a sweet-spicy balance, enriched with various aromatic spices and a hint of sugar. Furthermore, Southern bo kho often features an array of vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes.

4. What to eat with Vietnamese beef stew for the best flavor?

4.1. Vietnamese beef stew with bread

It is easy to see bo kho served with crusty Vietnamese bread - a classic and time-tested combination. When a tender beef meets the spongy bread, the texture and taste meld into one delicious whole. The slight sweetness of the bread plays off beautifully against the savory and spicy stew profile - making for one delicious bite.

Vietnamese beef stew

4.2. Vietnamese beef stew with noodles

Vietnamese beef stew works great with Vietnamese noodles like hu tieu or pho. This combo is delicious as it brings different tastes to the flavorful bo kho. In addition, having bo kho with rice will give you an amazing feeling of satisfaction, bringing about a warming and filling meal.

Vietnamese beef stew

In the end, the flexibility of bo kho will allow you to experiment with different combinations, which is the essence of a culinary journey - trying new flavors in each and every meal.

>>> Read more: Restaurants in Vietnam: 35+ BEST options for unforgettable dining

To indulge in Vietnamese beef stew, you can visit popular Vietnamese destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long, and more. For both an exceptional culinary experience and luxurious accommodation in these destinations, you can stay at the hotel and resort chain of Vinpearl

Vinpearl is known for exceptional services, elegant accommodations, and a wide range of facilities, including fine dining restaurants, spa and wellness centers, golf courses, and parks. Vinpearl has redefined luxury travel in Vietnam, ensuring that guests can experience the utmost comfort and relaxation during their stay.

Vietnamese beef stew


Vietnamese beef stew

Additionally, don't miss the opportunity to discover the entertainment paradise of VinWonders, where you can enjoy thrilling adventures and family-friendly activities.

>>> Book rooms in Vinpearl Phu Quoc, Vinpearl Nha Trang, Vinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long for a luxury stay!

Vietnamese beef stew, deeply embedded in Vietnam's culinary heritage, showcases the nation's culinary finesse and rich cultural diversity. For travelers, Vietnam beef stew is not just a meal; it is a food journey through the heart and soul of Vietnam.

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