This rich and complex Vietnamese beef stew, that usually takes hours to make, comes together in about 30 minutes in the instant pot! I’ll show you how to make the best authentic and flavorful Bò Kho as quick and easy as possible for the perfect healthy weeknight dinner.
The history and origin of Bò Kho
“Kho” is a technique in Vietnamese cuisine wherein a protein is braised, stewed, or simmered in either coconut water or a combination of fish sauce, sugar, and water. The concept of beef stew was brought by the French during the colonization period, and the Vietnamese people incorporated it into the cuisine to create Bò Kho.
Bo Kho Seasoning
For this recipe, I added store-bought Bo Kho seasoning. Be sure to use a brand that doesn’t have added salt or MSG. I like the Kim Tu Thap brand of Bo Kho seasoning for this because it only has the essential spices and no artificial colorants or preservatives.
How to serve Bò Kho
Bò Kho is a very versatile dish. It can be served a lot of different ways and can be eaten for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
In Southern Vietnam, the stew is served with Vietnamese baguette or bánh mì (you can try my recipe for it here!). This is called Bánh Mì Bò Kho. The fluffy bread is perfect for sopping up the flavorful stew sauce and its crisp outer texture acts as the perfect foil for the tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef.
In Central Vietnam, it’s served with rice noodles and is known as Phở Bò Kho or Hủ Tiếu Bò Kho. The savory sauce clings to the rice noodles as you slurp – a very satisfying experience especially when the stew is nice and warm.
You can also serve this with a side of steamed rice or with additional beef broth and noodles to make a delicious beef noodle soup. But no matter how you choose to serve it, I highly recommend accompanying the dish with a handful of fresh basil, fresh cilantro, thinly sliced onions, and a dipping sauce of salt, pepper, and lime juice. This is how we always have it at home and it really completes the experience.
By the way, this beef stew is even better as leftovers! The extra time gives the ingredients more chance to infuse into the sauce. Whenever I make this, I also like to freeze a few extra portions so we always have some Bò Kho available.
Instant Pot Beef Bò Kho
- 3 lbs Beef Chuck
- 2 TBSP Sugar
- 1 TBSP Ginger Powder
- ½ Chopped Lemongrass
- 2 TBSP Garlic Powder
- ½ cup of Fish Sauce
- 3 TBSP Bo Kho Seasoning
- 10 Star Anise
- 5 Cinnamon Sticks
- 2 Large Pieces of Ginger
- 1-2 Shallots
- 5 Stalks Lemongrass
- 2 tbsp salt
- 3 Pieces Rock Sugar
- Marinate Beef Chuck for at least 3 hours – best overnight.
- Toast Dry Aromatics – toast Cinnamon Sticks and Star Anise on low to low-medium heat for 7-8 minutes to develop the flavor and the aroma. Be careful not to burn.
- Toast Other Aromatics – toast Shallots and Ginger in pan or you can char them in a toaster oven under broil.
- cut potatoes and carrots and put in cold water and set aside
- Toast Dry Aromatics until fragrant which should take about 8-10 minutes. Make sure touse medium or medium low heat setting so the dry aromatics don't burn
- Toast / Char the other Aromatics: Ginger and Shallots
- Sear the meat over medium high heat
- Assemble all ingredients in Instant Pot
- Cook in Instant Pot on High Pressure for 15 minutes, then naturally release for 10 – 15 minutes. Then add potatoes and carrots and Pressure Cook again on High for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with fresh basil, thinly sliced onions, cilantro and on the side, combine salt, pepper and a dash of lime for dipping.