I’ve cooked many different types of stews in the past and this is only the second time I’ve prepared the Vietnamese Tomato Beef Stew (Bo Kho), my nephew’s favourite and he has always enjoyed this dish at another of our local favourite eateries in Vancouver, Au Petit Cafe (at Main Street and E. 32nd Avenue). I am so happy that I actually prepared this dish for my family; a big thank you to nom nom paleo for her wonderful wonderful recipe, I’ve used it as a base, made some changes and incorporated my own cooking methods. Beef stews are always more flavourful when prepared ahead of time, it’s best to start the preparation two days ahead for this dish (OO).
2 1/2 pounds of boneless short rib (trimmed and chopped into 1 1/2 inch chunks, pasture fed beef if possible), 2 large lemongrass stalk (bruised and chopped into 1 to 1 1/2 inch length), 3 Tablespoons fish sauce, 1 1/2 Tablespoon Madras Curry powder, 1/2 Tablespoon Five Spice powder, 3 Tablespoons peeled and finely grated ginger, 4 Tablespoons applesauce, 1 bay leaf, 1 Tablespoon organic butter and 2 Tablespoon grape seed oil, 1 finely chopped yellow onion, 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and crushed), 3 cups organic beef broth (or homemade pasture beef stock), 1 pound carrots (cut into one inch slices), kosher salt, cane sugar (finely grated), 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, store-bought French baguette
– Two days ahead: Toss boneless short rib chunk, lemongrass, fish sauce, curry powder, five spice powder, ginger, bay leaf and 2 Tablespoons of applesauce in mixing bowl, mix everything well, sealed and marinade overnight in refrigerator.
– One day ahead: Let marinade beef mixture cool to room temperature; in Large Dutch Oven heat grape seed oil, using medium high heat, seared the short rib chunks in batches until they are browned all over. Place the seared beef aside; Reserve the lemongrass stalk and bay leaf from marinade.
– In the same Dutch Oven, using medium low heat, add butter and saute the chopped onions until they soften; add the crushed tomatoes and kosher salt to taste, stirred to combine. Simmer the mixture (approximately 15 minutes) until a thickened paste is formed.
– Add short rib chunks, lemongrass stalk and bay leaf to “thickened” paste, stir and mix everything well.
– Add beef stock and remaining applesauce to Dutch oven and bring mixture to a boil; lower heat to medium low and let stew simmer for approximately two hours or until short rib is really tender.
– Remove from heat; transfer beef/lemon grass to another large bowl, then strain the sauce in order to remove all residue
– Quickly clean the Dutch oven, return all ingredients and sauce, and add the carrots; simmer in medium low heat for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until carrots are softened. Season with fish sauce and cane sugar to taste. If you think the sauce is a little thick, add more water to dilute the mixture and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce and grated cane sugar.
– When stew has cooled down, skim any visible oil and refrigerate overnight.
– Serving on the day: Skimmed all the fat (if any) and reheat the stew in low heat and bring it to a simmer.
e- To serve: Top the stew with freshly chopped cilantro and serve with oven toasted French baguette!