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Homemade Vietnamese beef stew with pressure cooker (“Bò Kho”)


Welcome back to the Cooking category!

Today’s recipe is one of the Vietnamese dishes that melted my husband’s heart (and his sister-in-law as well) is this Vietnamese beef stew (“Bò Kho”). It is one of the recipes that turns tough meat cut, like beef shanks, into tender, flavorful and delicious (just like our Vietnamese Spicy Beef Noodles Soup – Bun Bo Hue). And yeah, as soon as I knew his sister-in-law loved it, I shared a “hard copy” of the recipe with her right away. Now, it’s time to make it digital with some modification!

Where can I try this Vietnamese beef stew?

If you want to try it before cooking, ask for “Bò Kho” in your nearby Vietnamese restaurants. Of all the Vietnamese restaurants in Arizona state that I have been to so far, these two places have it in the menu:

How can I make it at home?

Luckily, this dish is very easy to prepare, and no special ingredients required.
Well… I might be slightly incorrect here. Chinese five spices, lemongrass and star anise kinda important for this dish, but you can easily grab all the spices and meat from US grocery stores. Some stores might not have bundle of lemongrass like in Asian grocery stores, but they do have lemongrass and ginger pastes ready to use. These are perfect alternatives for fresh ginger and lemongrass used in this recipe. However, it is quite pricey to get lemongrass in US grocery stores so I would suggest to get the lemongrass (3 bundles) from Asian grocery stores. The more lemongrass the better!
(Be prepare for a long list of ingredients, haha!)

Beef shanks, beef briskets, chuck roast, eye of round,… those tough cuts are perfect for this recipe. Especially beef shank, it’s the cheapest cut but it works best for the stew, so we always have some in the freezer. And not gonna lie, I think we drive the sales of beef shanks in our local grocery store. They always have them, while other stores we barely go to, they rarely have beef shanks available. And yup, we “clear” all the shanks on the shelf every time we visit our local store.

And you don’t even need to thaw them out because in the very first step, we parboil the meat in boiling water with ginger, lemongrass and shallot to “clean” them. I notice that if we do this step properly, the stew will have a fantastic aroma; if not, there will be some hints of unpleasant odor mixed in. In the old days, we didn’t have a pressure cooker so we would have to simmer for few hours to tenderize the beef. Now, we have a pressure cooker, making this stew has never been faster!

In Vietnam, we don’t add potatoes in the stew, only carrots and onions. We serve the stew with bread, instant noodles or rice noodles. Here, I found that it went so well with mashed potatoes, but to minimize the cooking steps, I added potatoes directly to the stew, let them absorbed the flavor and seasoning from the broth for a creamy, rich and savory taste.

Ingredients: (for 8 servings)


Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes (including only 1 hour of marinating)

And that’s it for this Vietnamese Beef Stew (“Bò Kho”). It is quite interesting that I did not eat or cook it a lot back in Vietnam, but when I am in the US, I am somewhat “addicted” to it and make this quite frequently. I have just cooked it this weekend for my parents-in-law and they loved it so much. They asked for a small portion to bring home and I gladly gave them. They also suggested me to bring it to this year’s Thanksgiving for other in-laws to try, and I think I would. It means so much to me that they love my food, my cooking and my culture!

Alright, friends! Please try it and let me know!
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Hope to see you in my next post!


Homemade Vietnamese beef stew with pressure cooker (“Bò Kho”)

Today's recipe is one of the Vietnamese dish that melted my husband's heart (and his sister-in-law as well) is this Vietnamese beef stew ("Bò Kho"). It is one of the recipes that turns tough meat cut, like beef shanks, into tender, flavorful and delicious.
Course Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Stew
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Ẩm thực Việt Nam, Bò Kho, beef, Beef brisket, Beef shank, Chuck roast, Vietnamese Beef Stew
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 1180kcal


  • 1 Pressure cooker (Ninja multicooker)


  • 2 lbs Beef shank
  • 4 lbs Beef chuck roast
  • 400 grams Baby carrots
  • 3 large Potatoes
  • 1 whole Sweet onion
  • 1.5 Liters Coconut water

Spices to parboil the beef:

  • 5 slices Ginger
  • 2 whole Lemongrass
  • 1 whole Shallot
  • ½ tsp Salt

Seasoning to marinate the beef (after parboil):

  • 1 whole Shallot
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • tsp Salt
  • 3 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp White wine (or any Cooking wine)
  • ½ tbsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp Curry powder
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • tsp Chinese five spices
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ tbsp Paprika

Seasoning for the both:

  • tsp Salt
  • tbsp Brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Mushroom bouillon powder
  • 3 Star anise
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp Annatto oil (not required, can be replaced by paprika)
  • 5 whole Lemongrass (at least)


  • Freshly chopped spring onion, cilantro, basil


Parboil the beef (to have clean meat for the stew):

  • Bring a pot of water to boil. While waiting for the water to boil, peel and slice a piece of ginger with the size of a thumb. Peel and roughly chop the shallot. Peel off the outer later of lemongrass and bash it.
  • When the water is boiling, add in chopped shallot, ginger and bashed lemongrass.
  • Add the beef to the boiling water and let them immersed in the water for 5 minutes then take out. Let the meat cool down. Discard the water.

Marinate the beef:

  • While waiting for the meat to cool down, mix all the seasoning for marinating in a large bowl.
  • Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces then add to the bowl, toss and massage the meat with seasoning. Cover and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour prior cooking. (Ideally, it tastes much better if the meat can be marinate for 3 hours or overnight.)

Cook the beef stew

  • Heat up the instant pot using "Sear/Sauté" function (or any function that allows stir-fry and boil), add a touch of oil and when the oil gets hot, add the beef in and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  • Then, add the coconut water and bring to a gentle boil. In the first 10 – 15 minutes, pay attention to the pot, remove any scums (bubbles) floating on the surface. When the broth is clean (to your standard), switch to "Pressure cook" function, set at "High" for 30 minutes.
  • While waiting for the meat to get tender, roast the star arise and cinnamon. (You can add them in a disposable tea bag or cheesecloth to remove them easily later on).
  • Peel off the skins of potatoes, carrots and onions (if applicable). Dice carrots, potatoes and onions into cubes. (during the waiting time)
  • After 30 minute of pressure cook, open the lid then add in the carrots, onions and potatoes, together with star anise cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Season the broth with salt, chicken/mushroom bouillon powder. Lemongrass (bashed) is also added in this step (for a nice aroma filled your kitchen later on). More paprika or annatto oil can be added in this step for a reddish-brown visual of the stew. Cover the lid, "pressure cook" at "High" for another 15 minutes
  • After the cooking time, open the lid to remove the lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves (this is why I recommend putting them in a tea bag or cheesecloth earlier). And the stew is ready to be served! Add some freshly chopped spring onion, cilantro and basil as garnish, and enjoy!


  • My in-laws approved!
  • If you can’t find beef shanks, go for chuck roast or brisket!
  • Buy lemongrass in Asian grocery stores is much cheaper and better in both quality and quantity!
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