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Recipe of the Week: Vietnamese Beef Stew

This recipe came to my inbox courtesy of the incredible Nourished Kitchen. I am a big fan of the Nourished Kitchen—I love the nutrition information and recipes that they put out—and have made a number of their dishes. All of which have been delicious. So if you are unfamiliar with them, I highly encourage you to check them out. You will be glad that you did.

At first glance, this Vietnamese Beef Stew recipe may look a bit daunting. But I promise you that preparing it is no more difficult than cooking a traditional beef stew. You just need to plan ahead to make sure that you have the beef bone broth that it calls for. You could use store bought beef stock, but I suggest that you don’t. As the stew won’t be nearly as flavourful or have the same healing benefits as it does when you use the bone broth.

Making the beef bone broth is actually the easiest part of the recipe. When I prepared mine, I put the bones I was using in my slow cooker with water, onions, garlic and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for 24 hours on low. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, I recommend that you get some. It’s key to the recipe, and helps to leach the minerals and nutrients out from the bones.

Once I prepared my broth I refrigerated it for 12 hours, then skimmed off the fat to use in the recipe where it called for lard. I was unable to locate Annatto seeds, (I have been told that TNT carries them, but you can also order them via the link below) so I substituted in 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of paprika—after learning that they have similar flavours.

This is a dish your whole family will love—I know because mine is still raving about it—so make it tonight, and let me know what you think! I would love to hear if you love it has much as I do 🙂



Vietnamese-Style Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes

Yield: serves 6 to 8



[list type=”4″]

  • 3 tablespoons pastured lard (find it here)
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (available here)
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots, from about 4 shallots
  • 2 small Thai chiles finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated garlic, from 6 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed of tough parts and crushed
  • 2 whole star anise (available here)
  • 1 Ceylon cinnamon stick (available here)
  • 2 1/2 pounds of grass-fed beef chuck cut into 1 1/2-2 inch chunks (find grass-fed beef here)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (available here in glass jars)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (I buy this kind.)
  • 3 cups warmed beef bone broth
  • 1 medium roughly chopped onion
  • 1 extra large carrot sliced into thick pieces
  • 1 pound of Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Sea salt, as needed
  • Thai Basil, Cilantro and Lime, to serve



[list type=”1″]

  • Heat lard in a heavy pot. I like using enamelled cast iron, over high heat.
  • Once the lard is melted, lower to medium heat and add annatto seeds. Sauté in fat for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant, careful of any seeds that pop and stirring constantly. Strain seeds from aromatic fat and allow to cool before tossing out. Leave the lard in the pot.
  • Heat annatto fat on medium high and add chopped shallots, allow to get some colour, about 5 minutes. Lower heat a little and add chopped chiles, grated garlic, grated ginger. Stir like crazy to release the flavours into the oil. Careful not to let the paste burn, about 4 minutes. Then add whole bruised lemongrass stalks, star anise, and cinnamon stick and sauté for 2 additional minutes.
  • Add beef and stir to coat with spice mixture. Add Chinese five spice, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, palm sugar, fish sauce, and warmed beef broth. Stir well and bring to boil, then lower and cover and let cook for 2 hours. At the 2 hour mark, add onion, carrot, and potatoes and continue to cook for another hour uncovered. Vegetables should be cooked through and meat fork-tender. If a thicker sauce is desired, increase heat to medium and cook for 30 more minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.
  • Remove lemongrass, star anise, and cinnamon stick before serving and serve stew with fresh Thai basil, cilantro, and lime wedges.



Note: If you have trouble locating grass fed beef bones, try, the Ladner Fish Market or Home on the Range on Broadway. Grass fed stewing beef is available from Spud as well. Why grass fed beef? It’s higher in nutrients—such as Omega 3s—has a richer flavour, and a better texture than regular beef. It’s a tad more expensive, but once you try it, you’ll never go back. I assure you.


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