The Vietnamese prize for this dish for
breakfast, and on chilly mornings people queue up for a steaming bowl of
thit bo kho on their way to work. In southern Vietnam, it is often served
with chunks of baguette, but in the other regions it is served with
noodles. For the midday or evening meal, it is serves with steamed or
sticky rice. Traditionally, it has and orange hue from the oil in which
annatto seeds have been fried, but here the color comes from turmeric
Lean beef, cut into bite-size cubes
Sesame or vegetable oil
Red chilies, seeded and chopped
Lemon grass, cut into several pieces and bruised
Star anise, roasted and ground to a powder
Hot beef or chicken stock, or boiling water
Raw cane sugar
Fresh basil, stalks removed
Ground black pepper
Onion, halved and finely sliced
Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped, for garnishing
Toss the beef in the ground turmeric and
set aside. Heat a wok or heavy pan and add the oil.
Stir in the shallots, garlic, chilies and
lemon grass. Cook until they become fragrant.
Add the curry powder and all but 10 ml of
the roasted star anise, followed by the beef.
Brown the beef a little, then pout in the
stock or water, the nuoc mam, soy sauce and sugar.
Stir well and bring the liquid to the
Reduce the heat and cook gently for about
40 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the liquid had reduced.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir
in the reserved roasted star anise, and add the basil.
Transfer the stew to a serving dish and
garnish with the sliced onion and coriander leaves.