Vietnamese Beef Stew - Bo Kho


3 lbs. boneless beef, cubed (I use a tough cut like shank, or rib finger meat)

3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. annatto seeds

1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 stalks lemongrass cut into 3-inch lengths
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

5 whole star anise
1 large piece of cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp. curry powder
10 cups beef broth
2 tsp sugar

4 Tbsp. tomato paste

3 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 cups coconut water

2 Tbsp. chili garlic paste
1 tsp ground black pepper
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 green onions, minced

3 cups fresh spinach, chopped (optional, not traditional but it is yummy)

Rice noodles, or thin wheat wonton noodles, prepared according to package instructions (I used rice noodle for the pictures but we do use the wonton noodles as well)

Place oil and annatto seeds in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Heat and stir until the seeds turn the oil to a dark red.

Pour oil and seeds into a heatproof container then strain out the seeds, return the now red oil to the pot.

Heat pot over high heat then add the beef and brown the beef working with small batches.

Once all the beef has been browned return it to the pot, lower heat to medium then add ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, curry powder, 5 spice powder, star anise, cinnamon stick then cook, stirring continuously, until onions are translucent – about 3 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, beef broth, coconut water, fish sauce, chili garlic paste, sugar and ground pepper

Bring pot back to a boil, cover and lower heat, simmer for about 1 hour or until the beef is tender but not falling apart.

Once beef is tender add carrots and green onions. Return to a simmer and cook uncovered until vegetables and beef are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lemongrass, cinnamon stick and star anise before serving.

Place noodles in a serving bowl then ladle the stew over them, garnish with chopped cilantro or Thai basil.

I had some gai lan in the fridge and rather than potatoes which is the traditional ingredient along with the carrots, I chose to blanch the gai lan and then add it to the bo kho since I was using rice noodles and that was enough carbs for me.

However if you love potatoes more than rice noodles omit the noodles and add a few potatoes when you add the carrots.

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