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A large bowl of bo kho served with tea
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4.98 from 39 votes

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

Delicious Bo Kho Vietnamese beef stew recipe made by braising beef in spices, and aromatics from lemongrass to star anise!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main, Soup, Stew
Cuisine: Vietnamese
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.
    It's important not to marinate it for more than 24 hours because kiwi is a very strong meat tenderizer, and it may tenderize the meat too much and make it mushy.


  • 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 or a dutch oven 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 and let it simmer. 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 have passed, stir the stew and 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 Vietnamese 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 thai 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. 
  • If you like your beef stew spicy, you can add 1-2 Thai chilies into the stew while the beef is braising.
  • It's important not to marinate it for more than 24 hours because kiwi is a very strong meat tenderizer, and it may tenderize the meat too much and make it mushy.


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