Instant Pot Bò Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew

1 Jan

It didn’t take long to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon. The allure of faster meals with our favorite flavors was too much to resist. Not to mention that every other post in a Vietnamese cooking group featured dishes using the appliance. Thankfully Santa brought me an 8 quart Instant Pot (IP) for Christmas.

With temperatures not even hitting 30F this week,  Kho is just what the doctor ordered. There’s a popular recipe floating around a Vietnamese cooking Facebook group using  Kho seasoning mix and soup base with directions for using the IP, so I figured I’d use that as my guide for this method, but made it my own. I’m not going to lie, these seasoning mixes are way easier than my from-scratch  Kho recipe. If you don’t have a good international market nearby, I found the ones I used on Amazon (Prime, even) and linked in the recipe list.

Bo Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew seasoning mixes

I haven’t fully figured out optimal IP timing – so feel free to adjust if you’re a well-seasoned IP-er – but the soup was damn good.

French bread, bowl of Vietnamese beef stew Bo Kho with plate of limes and cilantro

Anh likes tendon, and I don’t so I’ve never made an effort when making  Kho on the stovetop. With the IP, I thought I’d give it a try. In the recipe that follows, feel free to take or leave it.

Instant Pot Bò Kho

Serves 2 adults + hungry toddler over 3 sittings

  • 2 lbs stew beef cubed
  • 1 lb tendon, cut in 1.5″-2″ chunks
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, bottoms chopped into large pieces and smashed
  • 2″ ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Ga Vi Bò Kho Beef Spices
  • Bò Kho Stew Base
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 can Coco Rico coconut soda
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1″ rock sugar
  • 3 large carrots
  • 4 potatoes

There are definitely steps here, but don’t be scared.

1. Place the cubed stew beef and tendon in separate bowls, and sprinkle with approximately 2 tablespoons of the Bò Kho Stew Base seasoning and 1 teaspoon garlic powder and mix well. Marinate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

Marinating beef and tendon with bowls of onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger

2. Get a pot of water on the stove to boil while you do Step 3.  One or two quarts should do.

3. Heat IP to sauté setting and add a couple of tablespoons neutral oil once hot. Toss in 2 cloves minced garlic, half of the onion, lemongrass and ginger, and 2 tablespoons of the Beef Spices mix. Mix well and cook for a minute or two before adding the cubed beef. Sear until the meat starts to brown and set aside. If you’re not using tendon, leave meat in the pan and skip to step 6.

Seared beef with lemongrass and onion

4. Repeat with more oil, the other 2 minced garlic cloves and rest of the onion, lemongrass and ginger, and another 2 tablespoons of Beef Spices mix. This time, add the tendon.

5. Pour just enough boiling water to cover the tendon and aromatics and set IP to manual high pressure and cook for 10 mins, followed by a quick release.

6. Toss in the seared beef and aromatics in addition to: 2 cups Coco Rico, 1-2 tbsp Bò Kho Stew Base, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1″ rock sugar and 2 tbsp fish sauce. If the meat isn’t covered by liquid, add more boiling water just enough to cover. Set IP to manual high pressure to cook for 25 minutes, followed by a quick release.

Tomato sauce, Bo Kho Stew Base, Coco Rico, rock sugar and fish sauce

7. While this is happening, and you haven’t already, chunky chop your potatoes and carrots and set aside. Or clean up the kitchen. Or have a glass of wine. (Or in my case, chase a toddler around the kitchen at 23 weeks pregnant, dreaming of a glass of wine)

8. Once Step 6 is finished, toss in the veggies (see Step 7), taste the broth (careful not to burn yourself. This molten concoction has just been high pressure cooking for nearly half an hour), and adjust flavor to taste. We usually need to add a bit more sugar here. A little note about rock sugar: It’s not a huge deal if you don’t have this, but it does have a bit more of a caramel-y flavor. You could use cane or light brown + refined sugar here. Not a huge deal either way.


Set IP to manual high pressure to cook for 3 minutes, followed by 10 minutes natural pressure release. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but the the carrots and potatoes don’t need a ton of time in here, plus the natural pressure release continues to cook them. Trust me, ours was mush at 5 minutes.

Bowl of Vietnamese Beef Stew Bo Kho

So good, even with crumbling potatoes

9. Grab some crusty banh, quartered limes, cilantro, and salt + pepper to garnish and dip.



2 Responses to “Instant Pot Bò Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew”

  1. Katherine Nguyen September 6, 2019 at 10:42 am #

    You use the terms, “seasoning”, “spices” and “aromatics”… are you referring to the “Bo Kho Beef Spices”? I found this a bit confusing and wanted to clarify. Thanks…

    • amandare March 9, 2020 at 3:15 pm #

      Hi Katherine – I blame pregnancy brain! Aromatics are the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onion. The Seasoning and Spices are those mixes shown in the top photo. Hope you gave it a try – or will!

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