Bo Kho (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew)


Bo Kho is the best beef stew I have ever eaten! It takes a bit of prep work, but so very worth it in the end! I always double this recipe.

Prep Time:
40 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs 57 mins
Additional Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 7 mins
8 servings


  • 1 stalk lemongrass

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)

  • 2 ½ tablespoons grated ginger

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 ½ pounds beef brisket, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained and crushed with your hands

  • kosher salt to taste

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (Optional)


  1. Trim ends off lemongrass and cut into 3-inch pieces. Pound gently with a heavy object until bruised.

  2. Mix lemongrass stalk, fish sauce, ginger, applesauce, curry powder, five-spice powder, and bay leaf in a large bowl. Add beef; mix until coated. Let marinate in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

  4. Drain excess marinade off beef, reserving lemongrass and bay leaf.

  5. Melt ghee in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches until browned, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer beef to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion; cook and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and salt. Simmer until thickened into a paste, 12 to 14 minutes.

  6. Stir beef, reserved lemongrass, and bay leaf into the tomato paste. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until flavors combine, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add water and carrots; bring to a boil.

  7. Cover and cook in the preheated oven until beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Garnish with cilantro.

Cook's Notes:

Use another cheap cut of beef instead of brisket if desired.

Substitute butter for the ghee if desired.

Substitute 2 whole star anise for the Chinese Five-Spice Powder if preferred. Add them with the lemongrass and bay leaf in step 4.

Keep your ginger in the freezer for super-easy grating.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of marinade ingredients. The actual amount of marinade consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

346 Calories
25g Fat
14g Carbs
17g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 346
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 702mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 14mg 69%
Calcium 77mg 6%
Iron 5mg 25%
Potassium 550mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.