Bo Kho Magic: Vietnamese Beef & Noodle Stew That Warms Your Soul

Embarking on a gastronomic journey? Dive into Bo Kho, a Vietnamese masterpiece that seamlessly marries the zest of beef stew with the comforting notes of noodle soup. More than just a dish, it’s a passionately crafted experience, inviting your taste buds to savor every nuanced flavor.

If you’ve been romanced by Pho before and yearn for another passionate dalliance, then Bo Kho with rice noodles promises an enchanting date.

Picture this: for just $7.50, you’re moments away from immersing yourself in a bountiful bowl of beef broth that dances with spicy notes, caresses of braised carrots, and tender rice noodles, all crowned with the refreshing kiss of onion and cilantro. After a relentless, draining day of weekend lessons, it’s a savory hug that renews your spirit!

While it might seem like a mere spicy beef soup, the love and tradition woven into every bite unveils layers of exquisite flavors.

The heart of Bo Kho beats with ingredients like chili, five-spice, fish sauce, lemongrass, generous embraces of garlic, and tomato. Its passionate red dress is adorned with the aromatic touch of annatto.

Though some opt for annatto oil, in our version, we’ll be drawing upon ground annatto powder paired with an enticing homemade chili oil to stoke the flames of flavor.

Is It A Soup, or Is It A Stew?

While Bo Kho can proudly wear the badge of “beef stew”, its fluidity allows it to be presented both as a soulful soup or a hearty stew. In my heart, it sings as a soup. You can waltz with it paired with rice, do a tango with French bread, or, my favorite, swirl with noodles!

Whether you lean towards rice noodles (our Vietnamese version of “rice sticks”) or egg noodles, it’s all about following your heart’s desire.


For the Beef’s Embrace:

  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or brisket (lovingly cut into 1½-inch chunks)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely embraced)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger (finely embraced)
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2½ teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar

For the Stew’s Symphony:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (trimmed into 3-inch lengths, discarding any tough sentiments)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (finely sung, discarding any tough sentiments)
  • 8 cloves garlic (finely sung)
  • 1 onion (sliced with affection)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups pure coconut water/juice
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8 large carrots (tenderly peeled and angled into 1½-inch chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chili oil (or as your heart desires)
  • Wide rice noodles or egg noodles
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, cherishingly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup tenderly sliced raw onion
  • Lime wedges to refresh

The Dance of Preparation:

  1. Initiate the dance by marinating the beef. Marry the beef with garlic, ginger, fish sauce, five-spice powder, and brown sugar, ensuring each piece feels the love. Let it sit and mingle for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the stage with 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot, setting it ablaze on high heat. Introduce the stalks of lemongrass for a fleeting minute. Serenade with minced lemongrass and garlic, performing together for 2 minutes.
  3. Whisper in the onions until they become a vision of translucence. Welcome the beef, letting each side blush to a beautiful brown. Serenade further with tomato paste.

4 . Perform a duet for 5 minutes, then cascade in the water, coconut water, star anise, pepper, chili powder, annatto, and paprika. Elevate the rhythm to a boil, then simmer to a gentle sway for an hour.

  1. As the hour concludes, sway in the carrots, salt, soy sauce, and chili oil. Continue the rhythm for another 40 minutes.
  2. As the finale approaches, part with the lemongrass stalks and any lingering star anise. Cook your noodles as they whisper to you from the package, nestle them in bowls, and pour over the harmonious soup.
  3. Conclude with a flourish of cilantro, Thai basil, and raw onion, presenting with lime wedges on the side for an encore.
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