PRESSURE COOKER BÒ KHO (VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW)
VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW
One of the highlights from our recent trip to Vietnam was spending time with one of my culinary food idols, Andrea Nguyen. I’ve been cooking out of my treasured, well-worn copy of her cookbook, Into The Vietnamese Kitchen, for years, so when I spotted her in line when we were checking into our flight, I had a tiny panic attack. I was too nervous to approach her at SFO, but we finally chatted when we were retrieving our bags from the overhead bins at the end of our flight. (Unbeknownst to me, she’d been seated right behind us on the plane the whole time.) It took all of two minutes before I started gushing about her books and blog. Luckily for me, Andrea wasn’t put off by my scary fangirl antics, and we instantly connected over food.
During our week in Vietnam, we hung out with a bunch of cool food folks, but some of my favorite moments were shared with Andrea and her super-talented food stylist and travel companion, Karen Shinto. One example: Despite being stranded for several hours on a non-functioning fishing boat off the coast of Phu Quoc Island, we had a blast laughing, joking, and fishing with hooks attached to empty soda cans. (I promise we’ll recap our Vietnam trip in an upcoming podcast—there’s lots to discuss!) I love that Andrea’s not just THE Vietnamese food maven; she’s also forthright, bawdy, and a supportive cooking sistah. I love when people turn out to be just as cool IRL as they are in your mind.
Years ago, one of my first recipes on this blog was a “Paleo-fied” version of Andrea’s Bò Kho from her fabulous first cookbook. After our trip to Vietnam, I was inspired to cook it again—but this time, using my handy-dandy pressure cooker. I simplified the steps even further ’cause the point of cooking a dish in a pressure cooker is to make a stew in a fraction of the time. But believe me, there’s no flavor that’s been sacrificed in this hearty, umami-packed dish.
- ½ teaspoon ghee
- 5 pounds bone-in short ribs OR 2½ pounds grass fed beef brisket or chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch cubes (all work equally well)
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1½ teaspoons Madras curry powder
- 2½ tablespoons peeled and microplaned fresh ginger
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
- 3 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons applesauce
- 1 large stalk lemongrass, trimmed of loose leaves, cut into 3-inch lengths, and bruised with a heavy object (e.g. ramekin, meat pounder, broad side of kitchen knife—you get the idea)
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup bone broth
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- Instant Pot or stove top pressure cooker
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Meat pounder
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
Prep your ingredients! If you’re unfamiliar with lemongrass, check out this tutorial.
Grab your pressure cooker and melt the ghee over medium high heat. If you have an Instant Pot, use the “Sauté” function to heat the fat. Dry off the ribs and sear them in the pressure cooker.
Fry the beef in batches because you don’t want to overcrowd them in the pressure cooker.
Transfer the seared beef to a separate bowl or plate.
Toss in the onions and saute until translucent.
Add the curry powder…
…seared beef, diced tomatoes, and fish sauce.
Drop in the applesauce, star anise…
…smashed lemongrass stalks, and bay leaf.
Pour in the broth.
Cover and lock the lid of your pressure cooker.
If you’re using an Instant Pot, press the clear/off button before pressing the “Manual” button. Hold down the “+” button until you set it to 50 minutes high pressure. (If you’re using cubed brisket or chuck roast, press the “Meat/Stew” button to set it to cook for 35 minutes under high pressure.) Once the pot is programmed, walk away.
Using a stove-top pressure cooker? You won’t have all those buttons to press; instead, just cook covered on high heat until high pressure is reached. Then, reduce the heat to low to maintain high pressure for about 45 minutes if you’re cooking short ribs, and 30 minutes if you’re cooking cubed brisket or chuck roast.
When the stew is finished cooking, turn off the pressure cooker. Turn the valve at the top of the lid to release the pressure immediately.
Once the pressure’s dropped, pop open the lid…
…and add the carrots.
Cook for 7 minutes under high pressure. This time, when the stew finishes cooking, turn off the pressure cooker and let the pressure drop naturally. If the pressure hasn’t dropped completely after 15 minutes, turn the valve at the top of the lid to fully release the pressure.
Adjust the stew for seasoning with salt and fish sauce if needed.
Dig in right away—or store the stew in the fridge or freezer to eat at a later date. The stew will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge and several months in the freezer.
Thanks again for the inspiration, Andrea!
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my app, and in my New York Times-bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans(Andrews McMeel 2013).