Bo kho

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Recipe by Gravity84



  • 2.5 lbs of beef. Tough cheap cuts are best. Chuck, shank, short rib, oxtails. Trim off excessive fat and reserve.
  • 1 lb beef bones if using chuck, used for gelatin and unctuousness. Can sub for appropriate amount of beef stock.
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large, thick coins
  • 1 lb daikon radish, peeled and cut into large half moon chunks
  • 1 cup shallot or 1 medium onion minced fine + more for garnish
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce + more to taste
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder or equal pinches fennel seed, sichuan peppercorn, clove, cinnamon, and star anise totaling approx. 2 tsp. and ground to a powder.
  • 3 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp annato seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 thumb size pieces of ginger, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • palm sugar to taste (can use demerara or brown sugar)


  • cilantro, minced
  • onion, sliced thin
  • shallots, sliced and fried golden
  • thai basil
  • chiles, sliced thin. Thai birds, serranos, or jalapenos
  • scallions, sliced thin on a bias


Cut the meat into large, but manageable pieces. Slice one of the stalks of lemongrass thinly and mix with one of the cloves of garlic, the paprika, the five spice powder, and 1 tbsp of fish sauce. Toss the meat in the mixture and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.

If using beef bones, place in a 400 F oven in a stainless skillet and allow to brown. Remove and deglaze the pan with some water, transfer the lot to a pressure cooker and cover with water. Bring up to pressure and cook for 1.5 hours. Release pressure naturally and strain stock. Alternatively, simmer in a conventional pot or slow cooker for 5 hours.

Add the trimmed beef fat to a pot (or use neutral oil). Cook on medium high heat stirring every now and then to prevent burning and allowing the fat to render out. Add the annato seeds and cook until oil is deep red and annato seeds appear to not add any more color. Remove and discard the annato and the spent beef fat chunks, leaving the colored rendered fat in the pot. Sear the meat in batches, do not crowd the pan. When all the beef is rendered, add the rest of the shallots and the garlic. Cook until caramelized. Add a little bit of beef stock or water to deglaze, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom with a whisk to dissolve them into the liquid. Replace the seared beef into the pot and just cover with beef stock or water, you don't want too much liquid as it is supposed to be more stew like, so don't add too much (if you have extra beef stock, I like to reduce it down to a cup or so in another pot then add to the main batch). Cut the remaining lemongrass into 4-5 inch chunks and bruise with a mortar, meat mallet, or back of the knife (you don't need to make a paste, you just want it to be smashed out so it can release aromatics). Place the lemongrass with the ginger, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks in cheesecloth and wrap them up snugly. Tie it closed with some twine and place into the pot. Add the tomato paste and dissolve. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and allow to braise for 2 hours. When the beef is starting to become tender add the carrots and the daikon. Cook for another 30-45 min or until the veg is tender. Remove cheesecloth wrapped spices. Taste for seasoning. Add palm sugar to smooth out and balance the dish to taste. Add fish sauce for salt. Serve. Can be made days in advance and reheated for service. Serve with garnishes and either crusty french bread, flat rice noodles, or rice.