My Instant Pot Vietnamese beef stew (bò kho) is loaded with tender pieces of beef shank and tendon, sweet chunks of carrots, and an aromatic broth with notes of lemongrass and star anise. It’s irresistible with toasted baguette and fresh herbs.

Đang xem: Instant Pot Vietnamese Beef Stew Bò Kho


Last year I started relying more on the Instant Pot for our family meals. I could cook dishes with a fraction of the time they would normally take and spend the extra time helping the kids with their virtual learning. One dish that we made frequently is my mom’s Vietnamese beef stew, or bò kho. Instead of taking hours to simmer on the stove, it took an hour from prep to finish before dinner is ready.

What is Bò kho

Bò kho translates to braised beef. “Kho” is a popular Vietnamese cooking technique where proteins like beef, pork, chicken, and fish are braised on low heat until they become tender and infused with the intended flavors like my mom”s thịt kho. I asked my mom about the origin of Vietnamese beef stew so she broke it down for me. Bò kho is a dish in which Chinese influenced ingredients are married with French culinary techniques.

The French brought pot-au-feu and ragout to Vietnam. Ragout is a slow-cooked French-style stew that can be made with meat, fish, or vegetables. In Vietnam, people say ragu instead of ragout which is totally different from the Italian ragu. You’ll find both Vietnamese beef and chicken ragu with carrots and potatoes. Bò kho has a bit of tomato paste for color but Chinese five spice is one of the main seasonings used along with lemongrass and star anise. Vietnamese beef stew shares some similarities with Cantonese braised beef stew. There are no canned tomatoes or potatoes in Vietnamese beef stew. Every family has their own version of Vietnamese beef stew with some variations in aromatics but lemongrass and star anise are the essential flavorings.


Ingredient notes

Chinese five spice: is made with a mixture of star anise, cloves,cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. I make my own version but you can buy Chinese five spice in the spice section of your grocery store. Star anise: is commonly used in Vietnamese cooking. We add whole star anise to soups and braising liquid for its sweet-licorice-peppery flavor.Lemongrass: much of the lemongrass’s flavor is concentrated in its lower, cane-like stalks. Look for firm, pale-green stalks with fat, bulbous bottoms. Trim off the spiky tops and the bases and crush the stalks with the side of a knife to release their aromatic oils.Fish sauce: some of my favorite brands are Three Crabs, Flying Lion Premium Fish Sauce, and Red Boat Fish Sauce.


What cut of meat to use

For as long as I could remember my mom would make Vietnamese beef stew with beef shank and tendon. Beef shank is the leg portion and it tends to be more tough and sinewy. Beef tendon is the connective tissue between the bone and muscles and is a bit tougher than beef shank. They both have their own beefy flavor and texture. With the help of the Instant Pot, both the beef shank and tendon become tender in less than 30 minutes instead of hours simmering on the stove. Another cut of beef commonly used in Vietnamese beef stew is beef chuck. Instead of tendon, some people also add tripes. Use whatever cut of meat you like.

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Tips for making beef stew in the Instant Pot

If you haven’t made beef stew in the Instant Pot before, reading through these tips will ensure the most efficient and tastiest beef stew you’ll ever make.

Marinate the beef and tendons for at least 1 hour for the best flavor. You can also marinate it the night before.Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.Brown the beef in batches because you don’t want to overcrowd them in the pressure cooker.Depending on what cuts of beef you use, the cooking time will slightly vary. I used a combination of beef shank and tendons and both needed to be cooked on HIGH pressure to become tender but still have some bite.If you’re using a softer cut of beef like beef chuck, start with 15 minutes on HIGH pressure and check for firmness. Cook for an additional 2-5 minutes if it’s not to your liking. You can always add more time rather than starting with 20 minutes and ending up with mushy beef.The carrots need about 3-5 minutes to become tender depending on how big you cut them.Skim off the fat at the surface if it’s too oily for your taste. Taste and adjust your seasoning at the end with additional fish sauce, sugar, or water.


What herbs to serve beef stew with

The most common herbs we eat Vietnamese beef stew with are Thai basil (húng quế) and Vietnamese sawtooth (ngò gai). Simply tear up the leaves and add them to the soup. Some also like to dip the beef and tendon into a salt, lime, and chili mixture.

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With the Instant Pot, from prep to finish, you’ll have a pot of steaming hot Vietnamese beef stew ready for dinner in less than an hour. The broth is savory and hearty with tender pieces of beef shank, tendons, and carrots. My favorite way of eating bò kho is dunking warm pieces of baguette into the flavorful broth, scooping up some meat and tendon along with the fresh herbs. Bò kho can be eaten with rice noodles (hu tieu bo kho), egg noodles (mi bo kho), or rice. You can’t go wrong with any of those options!


For more Vietnamese food inspiration, check these recipes: Instant Pot Vietnamese chicken glass noodle soup, Vietnamese chicken noodle soup.

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