Only a handful of restaurants have served Bo Kho to me throughout the years, and the quality has been somewhat variable. At a Chinese grocery store in rural New Jersey, I’ve had some of my best meals.
The spicy beef broth with braised carrots, rice noodles, and crunchy onion and cilantro costs $7.50. It’s ready in a matter of minutes. When I got home from Saturday Chinese school, I had nothing better to look forward to than a relaxing evening with friends.
A food like spicy beef soup may appear straightforward, but the level of taste and delectability it offers when you’re eating the best possible rendition suggests otherwise.
Bo Kho is seasoned with chili, five-spice fish sauce, lemongrass, a plethora of garlic, and a tomato-based tomato sauce. Annatto, a fragrant spice, is the crucial ingredient that gives it the reddish hue. If you can find annatto oil, by all means, use it or make your own; however, I’ve added ground annatto powder and my own chili oil in this recipe to give it a little kick.
FOR THE BEEF:
- 2 to 2 ½ pounds of boneless beef chuck or brisket (cut into 1½-inch chunks)
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 3 tbsp. of ginger (minced)
- 5 tbsp. of fish sauce
- 2½ tsp. of five-spice powder
- 1½ tsp. of brown sugar
FOR THE REST OF THE STEW:
- 3 tbsp. of oil
- 1 stalk of lemongrass (cut into 3-inch lengths, after removing any tough woody parts)
- 2 stalks of lemongrass (minced, after removing any tough woody parts)
- 8 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 onion (sliced thinly)
- 4 tbsp. of tomato paste
- 8 cups of water
- 2 cups of pure coconut water/juice
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp. of ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. of chili powder
- 1 tsp. of ground annatto (optional)
- 1 tbsp. of paprika
- 8 large carrots
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 3 tbsp. of soy sauce
- 3 tbsp. of chili oil (or to taste)
- wide rice noodles or egg noodles
- ¼ cup of coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of Thinly sliced raw onion
- Lime wedges
1. The beef should first be marinated. Make an even coating on the meat by mixing it with the ginger, fish sauce, spice powder, and brown sugar. Allow 30 minutes of marinating time.
2. Then, in a big stockpot or Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Allow the oil to infuse for one minute after adding the lemongrass stalks. Lemongrass and garlic, both minced, should be added next. Allow it to simmer for two minutes before serving.
3. Cook the onions until they are transparent, then add them. Then, in the same saucepan, brown all-beef until it is a uniform color throughout. Tomato paste should be added.
4. 5 more minutes of simmering and stirring, then remove from the heat—Remove from the fire and add the coconut water and other ingredients after a few minutes of cooking. A boil should be reached, the heat should be lowered, and the mixture should be allowed to simmer for an hour.
5. Add the carrots, salt, soy sauce, and chili oil after an hour has gone. Continue to cook for another 40 minutes.
6. Lemongrass stalks and star anise pods should be removed before serving. The soup should be ladled on top of the noodles once cooked to your liking.
7. Toss in some cilantro, Thai basil, and a few raw onion slices before serving with lime wedges.