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  • Writer's pictureDeana Thai

Mì Bò Kho - Instant Pot

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Vietnamese spicy beef stew is a dish packed with delicious spices and savory beef flavors!
Bò kho - Vietnamese Spicy Beef Stew
Tag me on Instagram @Lifestyles_With_Deana when you make this dish!

Bò kho is a Vietnamese dish composed of beef, carrots, tomatoes, a variety of spices that includes five spice (Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel), fish sauce, onions, garlic, lemongrass, and annatto oil/powder. The combination of ingredients creates a complex and unique flavor in this beef stew. And yes, I do consider it a stew since the broth becomes thicken as it slowly cooks. Also, it should be noted that although the word "spicy" is generally used to describe this dish, it is not a burning spicy dish at all. The addition of crush chili, chili oil or chili sate can be used as an add-on in individual bowls. So for those that desire more heat, they can simply add chili into their own bowls.

While the fresh ingredients and dry spices compliment the beef chunks, the annatto oil adds an attractive color to the overall dish. If you don't have annatto oil or powder, you can substitute with a sweet paprika powder. The paprika will give you the same effect. As for the lemongrass, I prefer to mince them finely instead of bundling them. The minced lemongrass produces a stronger fragrance and flavor. The bundle of lemongrass can never fully release all its flavor. So be sure to spend a bit of time to mince well.

My favorite thing about bò kho is how tender and tasty the beef becomes through the slow cooking process. I actually don't even marinate the meat in advanced because I'm slow cooking the meat anyway. No need to add an extra step. Now with the instant pot, it's even easier because I don't have to stand around making sure my liquid levels are evaporating too fast and burning! However, you can still make it on the stove top with this recipe. You'll just need to add in additional water to compensate for evaporation.

As far as type of meat goes, you can use brisket chunks, bone-in short rib chunks, and or oxtail. Cooking times varies from one cut of meat to the other. Oxtail takes the longest to cook; especially on the stovetop.

What do you serve bò kho with? I grew up mostly dipping French baguettes into the thicken stew and on rare occasions with a starchy egg noodle. My own family enjoys bò kho with both egg noodles and bread, so sometimes we have both!

Notes: Homemade five spice powder can be made by combining the following spices: 6 star anise pods, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon or 1 Chinese cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, and 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns. Combine together in a spice grinder and grind well. Store the five spice in an airtight container in a dark cool place. Flavors are best when used before the 6-month mark. So date your spice jar!

bo kho
Stove Top Bo Kho w/Short Ribs

{Ingredients} Serves 6-8

  • 4 lbs beef brisket/short rib/oxtail

  • 3 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1 large red onion minced

  • 4 cloves garlic minced

  • 1 tsp minced ginger

  • 1/4 cup minced lemongrass

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp 5 spice mix

  • 1 tbsp annatto powder (or 3 tbsp annatto oil or substitute with 1 tbsp sweet paprika)

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 large tomatoes chopped (or 1/2 cup ketchup)

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 cup granulated sugar)

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (or 1/3 cup chicken bouillon)

  • 3.5 - 4 cups water

  • 8 large carrots peeled and chopped

  • Toppings: Scallions, Thai Basil, Fresh Chili or Crush Chili Sauce/Sate, Lemon/Lime

  • French Baguettes/Wide Egg Noodles

Vietnamese Baguettes
Homemade Fresh Baguettes - Recipe Available Below


Instant Pot Cooking

  1. Set instant pot on sauté mode. Add oil, chopped onions, garlic, lemongrass and ginger. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the salt, five spice mix, annatto powder, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, fish sauce and water. Stir until everything is well incorporated.

  2. Add the chunks of beef and give them a good stir. Secure the instant pot lid and close the vent. Set on meat/stew (high pressure) for 40-minutes for brisket/short ribs and 60-minutes for oxtail.

  3. Prepare the carrots by peeling, washing and chopping them into 1-inch chunks. Blanch them by adding them to a pot filled with water. Set heat to high and allow to come to a boil. Let carrots boil for 3-4 minutes. Remove and drain. Set aside for later.

  4. Prepare egg noodles according to package instructions. It also tastes great with French baguettes and or rice. Prepare garnishes (scallions/basil/chili/Lime).

  5. When meat is done stewing, release pressure and add carrots. Give it a good stir and serve with baguettes, noodles or rice.

Stove Top Cooking

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot on medium heat, Add oil, chopped onions, garlic, lemongrass and ginger. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the salt, five spice mix, annatto powder, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, fish sauce and water.

  2. Mix till incorporated. Let the ingredients simmer on medium low for 3-5 minutes.

  3. Add beef and mix well. Cook on medium with lid slightly a jared for 20-minutes. Stir occasionally.

  4. Add carrots during the last 10-minutes of cooking. Cover with lid ajar and stir occasionally.

  5. Taste broth and if needed add additional salt or fish sauce until you’ve reached the saltiness you like. My suggestion is to add ½ teaspoon at a time so that the stew doesn’t become overly salted.

  6. When brisket/short rib is fork tender, approximately 45-60 minutes of cooking, it is ready to enjoy! Oxtail on the stove top will take 4-hours to become tender. You'll need to add 1 cup of water per hour to compensate for evaporation.

  7. Serve with hot baguettes, rice or noodles! Bon Appétit!

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