Go Back
+ servings
Print Recipe
4.89 from 9 votes

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

A Vietnamese beef stew has all the flavors of a traditional beef stew with additional aromatics from lemongrass and star anise to give it another dimension of flavor. It can be eaten as beef noodle soup with rice noodles or dipped in a french baguette! If you love beef stew, you definitely need to check out this Bo Kho recipe.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main, Soup, Stew
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: bo kho, bo kho recipe, Vietnamese beef stew
Servings: 4 Bowls
Calories: 722kcal
Author: Joyce


Beef Marinade

  • 1 kg beef (shank, oxtail, boneless rib, chunk or sirloin tip - see notes)
  • 1 kiwi (smashed)
  • 1 can of cola (355 ml, approximately 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 inch ginger (cut roughly into strips)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
  • 1 onion (cut into slices)
  • 2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

Bo Kho Stew Ingredients

(Optional) If You are Transforming it to a Noodle Soup


  • ½ white onion (or any sweet onion, thinly sliced - don't skip this, it really adds a lot of flavor to the final dish)
  • fresh basil
  • lime wedges
  • crispy deep fried shallots


Marinate the Beef

  • Cut the beef into 1 ½ inch chunks and place it in large bowl
  • Roughly chop the garlic and onions and place it in the bowl
  • Slice the ginger and cut them into thick matchsticks and place it in the bowl
  • Add the five spice, fish sauce and cola in the bowl
  • Peel the kiwi and smash it with the fork, put the smashed kiwi in the bowl
  • Mix everything well and marinate it overnight in the fridge. If you're pressed for time, marinate it for at least 4 hours in room temperature.


  • Remove the marinating beef from the fridge and drain the liquid.
  • Discard the arromatics (the onions, garlic and ginger). Don't worry we use fresh arromatics for the stew.
  • Let the beef sit in room temperature for an hour, this will help with the browning of the beef since the beef won't be as cold.
  • Peel and slice an onion and set it a side
  • Peel and roughly chop the garlic and set it a side
  • Slice the ginger and set it a side
  • Peel and chop the carrot into 2 inch chunks and set it aside
  • Peel the dried outer layer of the lemongrass and cut off the dried tips and discard it. Wash the lemongrass to remove any sand. Cut the lemongrass into 2-3 inch chunks and smash it with a rolling pin or the blunt back of your knife to release the oils.

Putting It Together

  • Place a large heavy bottom pot over the stove on medium heat and add a bit of oil with 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • When the pot is hot, add the beef in one at a time, careful not too crowd it too much. Brown the beef in batches. (The beef browns better if you touch it less, it gives it a chance to form a crust)
  • Once all the beef has browned, add all the beef back in and add in the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon stick and star anise and toast it with the meat for about 5 minutes
  • Add in the tomato paste and mix everything well, cook for another 2-3 minutes
  • Add in the cooking wine, beef broth and bay leaves and gently scrape the bottom of the pan if there are brown bits stuck to the bottom (this is flavor).
  • Bring it to a boil. Once it has started boiling, reduce the heat to low and put a lid on it. Set a timer for 2 ½ hours. (If you are using oxtail or beef shank, you will need to cook it a lot longer, by approximately 1 hour more)
  • Once 2 ½ hours has passed, check the beef for tenderness. If it is still tough continue to cook it for another 30 minutes. If the stew needs more liquid, add more beef broth or water.
  • Once it is tender, add in the carrots and continue to cook it for another 30 minutes with the lid on until the carrots are soft
  • Add the fish sauce and adjust it to your taste
  • Fish out the lemongrass, star anise and bay leaves and serve with a baguette or with rice.

(Optional) Making It Into A Beef Noodle Soup

  • Use the same steps in 'Putting It Together', but once the stew is done add in 1-3 cups of beef broth (depending on how thin you want the soup)
  • Add fish sauce to taste
  • Serve with noodles and thinly sliced sweet onions. Garnish with lime wedges and basil.


  • If you use beef shank or oxtail, you will need to increase the cooking time, since they are tougher cuts of beef. Definitely worth it though.
  • If you use oxtail, you will get less meat if you use 1.5kg of oxtail since the majority of the weight will come from the bones. 


Serving: 1Serving (1.5 cups) | Calories: 722kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 50g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 1228mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g