Bo Kho (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew)


  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef brisket, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained and crushed with your hands
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)



  1. Trim ends off lemongrass and cut into 3-inch pieces. Pound gently with a heavy object until bruised.
  2. Mix lemongrass stalk, fish sauce, ginger, applesauce, curry powder, five-spice powder, and bay leaf in a large bowl. Add beef; mix until coated. Let marinate in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  4. Drain excess marinade off beef, reserving lemongrass and bay leaf.
  5. Melt ghee in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches until browned, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer beef to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion; cook and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and salt. Simmer until thickened into a paste, 12 to 14 minutes.
  6. Stir beef, reserved lemongrass, and bay leaf into the tomato paste. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until flavors combine, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add water and carrots; bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and cook in the preheated oven until beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Garnish with cilantro.

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