Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bo Kho

My buddy Rod took me out for Vietnamese food a few weeks back. While there I ordered the beef stew. I was not aware that Vietnamese cuisine featured a beef stew, so I was intrigued. When the soup arrived with a baguette I was very excited. I figured that perhaps the stew was inspired by Beef Bourguignon, which would make sense in light of French occupation. I'm still not sure if that's true or not, but I became an instant fan after digging the tender beef and complex broth. The broth! Dear God, the broth!

This dish takes a few hours to prepare and is even better the day after. Take your time and enjoy!

Bo Kho

2 to 3 pounds beef chuck cut into 2 1/2" inch cubes
32 ounces beef broth
1 pound ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 onions, diced
1 head of garlic, finely minced
4 star anise
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound baby rose or baby Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into wedges

For the Marinade
1 stalk of lemongrass (lower parts of stalks only), finely, finely minced
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cumin and cloves
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1. Peel off the outer stalks of the lemongrass, strike with the flat of a cleaver to separate the fibers, then finely mince. Place in a bowl with the beef and all of the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon the cooking oil in a large pot of Le Creuset. Sweat the garlic and onions over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove onions and reserve.

4.Increase heat to medium high. Working in batches, cook beef until the cubes are nicely browned. You can add 1 tablespoon of oil with each batch. Reserve each batch of beef cubes in a bowl.

5. When finished, deglaze the pot with the beef broth. Add the reserved onions, beef, chopped tomatoes and star anise.

6. Place pot in oven a cook for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, check to see if the beef cubes are fork tender. If not, cook for 30 minutes longer. If tender, add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 30 more minutes.

7. Serve with bread (a baguette is traditional) and garnish with sliced green onions.

Be careful when adding the lemon grass. You really want to make sure that there are no hard, outer parts.

You might want to add bok choy in the last 10 minutes of the cooking for a nice green addition to the stew.

As with any soup, I like to let it cool before service. I prefer to serve it at a temperature of 140-145.

It's been a chilly winter here in July, so soup has really hit the spot.