Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)

This is my version of mum's Vietnamese Bo Kho. We grew up eating this spicy tomato beef stew with crusty Vietnamese bread or vermicelli noodles. I now have it on its own with lots of carrots, white radish and fresh Vietnamese herbs or over a bowl of spiralised veggies like zucchini noodles. The beef is normally simmered on the stove for an hour or until it is tender, but using the pressure cooking you just throw everything in and set the timer for 30 minutes!

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
I used oyster blade for this recipe which has a thin line of gristle through the middle and reminds me of my mums version which had a mixture of beef cubes and beef tendons. You can use any type of stewing beef, but you will need to extend the cooking time 15 - 20 mins if using a tougher cut of beef.

I love serving my bowl of steaming hot Vietnamese bo kho with thinly sliced spanish onion and a variety of herbs like coriander, thai basil and mexican coriander (aka culantro or sawtooth coriander) . If you cannot access all the herbs, coriander works well with the onion and is commonly found in most grocery stores.

Mexican coriander (ngo gai in Vietnamese) is also a popular Vietnamese herb for pho (noodle soup). The fragrance and taste is stronger than coriander and is one of my favourite herbs. Stay clear of the mature leaves as the spikes can get quite prickly in your mouth!

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Known by a few names: Mexican coriander, Sawtooth coriander, Culantro & Ngo gai (Vietnamese)
Thai Basil is another common herb found in most asian grocery stores and also a favourite additional to pho.

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Thai Basil
I have the Breville Slow Fast cooker (buy it on amazon or Bing Lee in Australia has the best price) which has a saute, slow, pressure cooker and keep warm function. It's been one of the best kitchen items I have purchased and a must if you are switching to a real food lifestyle! It means I can brown the meat with the saute function then use the slow or pressure cooker function all in one pot, saves cooking and cleaning time. It has a safety lock mechanism which made me feel at ease as I was very afraid of the pressure cooker never having used one before. (If you don't have a pressure cooker and you want to make this recipe right now, you can easily cook this on the stove, just keep it partially covered to reduce the evaporation of the liquids and simmer until the beef is tender, about 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the cut)

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
My all in one Slow, Pressure, Saute & Keep Warm cooker by Breville
My mum started using a premixed packet of bo kho seasoning a few years ago for convenience, it tastes great but I'm not sure if everything is listed on it including msg which is why I love making this version, with only real herbs, spices and fresh tomatoes. It's also great to have some leftovers the next day with zoodles (Mi Bo Kho)!

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Serve up any leftovers the next day with some zoodles, just add some extra salt to the Bo Kho when re-heating

 Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Serves 4

You will need:
  • 500gms cubed beef (I like oyster blade, any stewing beef with work)
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 6 ripe tomatoes (I don't like using tinned food but if you are short on time, 1 tin of tomatoes will do)
  • 2 cups of coconut water (the clear water from the coconut not cream from a can. Plain filtered water is fine as a substitute if you cannot find coconut water, I like to use coconut water as it adds slight natural sweetness)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 white radish (daikon radish) - or an extra carrot if you do not like white radish
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (buy on amazon)
  • 2 bay leaves (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • 1 star anise (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • 1 Chinese brown cardamom (do not use the green cardamom, they are not interchangeable) (buy on amazon)
  • 1/4 cup oil of choice (I use olive or avocado, coconut oil is ok too if you prefer)
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Chinese brown cardamom is not interchangeable with green cardamom, this is what you should be looking for :)
For the marinade:
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (I use Red Boat brand which has no added nasties. Buy on Amazon or contact Red Boat for your local stockist)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, smashed and cut into 4 pieces (save the green part for tea)
  • 1 inch of ginger minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns (or 1/2 crushed black pepper if preferred (buy from iherb or amazon)
  • 3/4 tsp natural sea salt (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (buy from iherb or amazon)
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds (buy on iherb or amazon)
  • preheat the oven to 200c if using fresh tomatoes (skip if using tinned)
  • place the diced beef in a bowl and add all the marinade ingredients, mix well and set aside
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Add all the marinade ingredients and set aside
  • finely dice half the onion
  • place the tomatoes on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until the skin starts to peel, then allow to cool
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Peel tomatoes and remove seeds
  • peel the carrots and white radish and cut into 1 inch pieces (halve them if they are quite thick)
  • set your cooker to the saute function for 20 minutes and add half of the oil, allow to heat up for 2 minutes
  • in the meantime, peel and remove the seeds from the tomatoes, catch the juices and crush the flesh with your hands in a bowl and set aside
  • add the beef mixture to the cooker and brown
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
brown the beef with the herbs and spices, the kitchen will smell delicious!
  • remove the beef, then add the rest of the oil
  • add the the onions and cook until brown (this process should all take around 20 mins)
  • return the beef to the cooker
  • add the carrots, radish, coconut water (or water), crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, star anise, Chinese brown cardamom to the pot (it should meet the maximum capacity for the pressure cooker function, don't overfill the cooker!)
  • set the function to pressure cooker and timer to 30 minutes
  • while it is cooking, thinly slice the spanish onion and wash, dry and finely slice your herbs
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
top your bowl of Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew) with fresh herbs & thinly sliced onion
  • once done, allow the pressure to release naturally or use the pressure release button if you're in a hurry!
  • the beef should be super tender, if you used a tougher cut of beef increase the cooking time by 15-20 minutes
  • serve with freshly sliced onion and herbs
  • keeps for about 3 days in the fridge (can be frozen too :)
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Bo Kho (Beef Tomato Stew)
Hope you enjoy! xx
May :)


  1. Wow May this looks amazing and I have a pressure cooker I never use!

    1. Thank you!! Maybe time to get it out? ;)

  2. I NEED a pressure cooker! I love the sound of this soup - looks so great! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I have been considering buying a pressure cooker for awhile. Have you tried making broth in it as well?

    1. Yes I have a recipe for bone broth cooked 3 ways (slow, pressure cooker or stove top). It's under paleo meals on the recipes page :)

  4. I've never used a pressure cooker before. I need to check it out.

    1. I really love my pressure cooker. It's one kitchen appliance I cannot live without! :)

  5. All of the photos of the process! This is beautiful. I can imagine the fragrances.

  6. This is such a beautiful + nourishing soup! Your photos always blow me away. So stunning.