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Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Well, that was a rainy and dreary weekend in Regina! Thank god for good books and new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Netflix.  And thank god for beef stews! You’ve all seen my post on the Irish beef stew, but this time around I decided to make a Vietnamese beef stew (or “bo kho” in Vietnamese).

I remember my mom making this when I was younger and I’ve always loved the heartiness and warmth of it. My mom always used fattier cuts of beef, but as you all know, I like leaner cuts of meat so I used 2 lbs of stewing beef bought at Sobeys (on sale this week!).

Now, there are a couple key differences between Vietnamese beef stews and the beef stews of other cultures (other than seasoning):  1) Vietnamese beef stews aren’t as thick as other stews. If you remember, in the Irish beef stew recipe, the stew is thickened near the end with a butter and flour mixture. Vietnamese beef stews are a little more soupy. 2) European beef stews are served over mashed potatoes. Vietnamese people did not mash their potatoes. Instead, Vietnamese beef stews are served with a thick, crusty loaf of French bread. France ruled Vietnam as a colony for hundreds of years, and you can see lots of French influence in Vietnamese cuisine. For example, Vietnamese “banh mi” (a sandwich served on a baguette), and desserts such as flan and pate a choux pastries. The French introduced bread to the Vietnamese people and this hearty beef stew is only completed by a nice loaf of French bread.

Now, this version of Vietnamese beef stew is a little spicy as I used two red chili peppers. My husband and I both like spicy foods, so this was fine for us, but if you don’t like things too spicy, just use one red chili pepper. There are a couple of spices in this recipe that some of you may not be familiar with and that’s Chinese five spice and star anise. These are common spices in Vietnamese cuisine and when you smell them, it will definitely remind you of Vietnamese broths and soups. You can find them at an Asian food store or grocery stores with well-stocked Asian aisles, like Superstore. I have never found them at Sobeys or Co-op.

Also, although this recipe requires some prep time, I love the fact that there are ‘breaks’ in there where the stew simmers and I can rest. First, I marinated the beef and set it aside. While it is marinating, I prep all the vegetables and gather all the ingredients. I like having all the ingredients prepped and gathered by the stove, as it’s not practical for me to waddle back and forth between the stove and the pantry multiple times anymore! Things could burn or overcook by the time I find the ingredient and make it back to the stove! So the prepping and gathering of ingredients took me about 20-30 minutes. It might be faster for you guys, as I’m moving pretty slow lately, but the beef doesn’t need to marinate for that long. After everything is prepped, the next stage is to brown the meat and throw most of the other ingredients in and let it simmer for 1 hour. That’s enough time to watch one episode of Law & Order or have a decent nap. After that hour is up, you throw in the potatoes and then there’s another 45 minutes of simmer time. That’s another episode or nap!

This was the perfect comfort meal for a rainy weekend! What is your favourite comfort meal for rainy days?

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 2.5 - 3 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 2 red chili peppers, deseeded and finely minced
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into thick 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and quartered (or cubed into 2-3 inch pieces)

Instructions

1

Combine the beef, flour, Chinese five spice, pepper, garlic, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Set aside to marinate while you prep all the other vegetables and gather all the other ingredients.

2

Put the oil in a large dutch oven or pot and heat over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, lower the temperature to medium and brown the beef cubes.

3

Add the shallots and red chili peppers and fry for a couple of minutes.

4

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots, cinnamon stick, star anise and beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover with a lid and simmer on the low heat for one hour.

5

After an hour, add the potatoes, give the stew a stir, cover again, and continue to simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.

6

Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed, remove the cinnamon stick and star anise, and serve with a nice crusty loaf of French bread.

Beer and Wine Pairings/ Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Irish Beef Stew

I was in Calgary for the past week, prepping for and celebrating my little sister’s wedding. My sister married an Irish guy, and I had the pleasure of meeting his relatives who came straight from Ireland to attend the wedding. These charming people were legit Irish, complete with the lilting accents, the European kisses on the cheek when greeting each other, names like Seamus and Finn, and one aunt even wore a stylish fascinator to the wedding!

The wedding day was perfect with gorgeous sunny weather. But now that my husband and I are back in Regina, the weather is cool and drizzly and I’m wanting something hearty and comforting for dinner. In honour of my sister’s Irish in-laws, I decided to make an Irish stew for dinner tonight. I did check with my new brother-in-law first and asked him if Irish beef stew is actually a thing in Ireland. He assured me that it’s the “real deal”.

It was good timing for the frugal shopper in me as well, as stewing beef is currently on sale at Sobey’s for $6.99/lb. I bought approximately 2 lbs of stewing beef for just over $14. This recipe calls for 1 lb of stewing beef, so I froze the pound because I’m sure I’ll be making this again very soon!

This recipe calls for a dark stout beer, and the obvious choice would have been to go for an Irish Guinness. However, I decided to add some fusion to the recipe by going for a Canadian stout beer, the Cobblestone Stout from Mill St. Brewery. It is a creamy Irish-style stout, with notes of roasted coffee, chocolate and caramel – perfect flavours to use and pair with a beef dish.

Cobblestone Stout Beer

I served this stew over a bed of buttery garlic mashed potatoes and it was warm, comforting and hearty. There was a little bit leftover and I’m already looking forward to having it for lunch tomorrow!

Irish Beef Stew

Irish Beef Stew

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

  • FOR THE STEW
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup dark Irish-style stout beer (I recommend Cobblestone Stout or Guinness)
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
  • 8 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of half and half cream
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Season the cubed beef with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the beef to the stockpot and sear on all sides, about 3 minutes. Set the beef aside, but leave the beef juices in the pot.

2

Add the garlic, onion and carrots to the pot. Cook and stir occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the vegetables evenly.

3

Stir in the beef broth, beer, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and the beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer on low until the beef is tender, about 90 minutes.

4

Take your time and make the garlic mashed potatoes (I mean, you have 90 minutes while the stew cooks. I usually start the potatoes when there's 30 minutes left for the stew). Place potatoes and garlic in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and return to the pot (the pieces of garlic too!)

5

Stir in the half and half and butter. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Set aside until the stew is done.

6

In a small bowl, combine the butter and flour for the stew. Add the mixture to the stew and stir until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the frozen peas and corn and stir until they are heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

7

Serve the stew over garlic mashed potatoes with an Irish style stout beer!