This post is mostly for my own reference. I made Vietnamese “Beef” Stew twice, though neither time with beef. The recipe below is lightly adapted from Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bò Kho) Recipe #SundaySupper by Thien-Kim Lam.

Makes enough for four servings. Five, if you stretch it, and make enough noodles. You can halve the recipe to serve two.

Prepping

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 700g goat chops and back bone OR
    • 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs OR
    • 700g chunks of beef and bone OR
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger (about 5cm knob)
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Toss to evenly coat and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Warning: this will smell incredible. Meanwhile, get the rest of your mise en place ready.

Have ready in a small bowl:

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

Have handy:

  • 70g of tomato paste (about 4 tbsp)

In other small bowl, have the following spice mix ready:

  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 stalks lemongrass cut into 8cm lengths
  • 1 to 2 whole star anise

Also have ready in a big bowl:

  • 2 large, fat carrots, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
  • 4 to 5 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

The carrot and potato pieces should be roughly the same size as each other, and so big you’d only want one on your spoon at a time. Pro tip: have an even multiple of chucks of carrot and potato as people you plan to serve to make the “plating” simple.

Lastly, prep the garnishes into little serving bowls or arranged on a platter:

  • super thinly sliced yellow onion
  • coarsely chopped cilantro
  • coarsely chopped Thai basil

Beginning soaking in cold water:

  • 1 package XL rice noodles (or 1.5 packages, if you want to stretch to 5 people)

Set a timer for 60 minutes. After the 60 minutes, drain the noodles well and set aside. They will be pliable but stiff.

goat-stew-mise-en-place
Ohhh can you smell that fish sauce and five spice and garlic and ginger? What about the sting of those yellow onions sliding underneath. No?

Cooking

In a 3.5 L Dutch oven, heat over high heat until it shimmers:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil (use 4 tbsp for chicken or lean meat)

Brown the meat on all sides in small batches. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of brown. I used a spatter screen when browning the goat meat, which was especially necessary because goat fat is so pungent. Transfer the meat to a bowl and do the next batch.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the chopped onions and cook until fragrant and soft, making sure to stir and scrape up the brown meat bits (approx. 5 minutes).

Add the tomato paste and stir into onions. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the bowl of spice mix. Stir and let it cook uncovered until you can smell all the spices, about 5 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Cover with:

  • 2 cups of coconut juice (or coconut water)
  • 3 cups of water (or stock. See note about flavour development)

Bring pot to a boil, then cover and lower heat. If you are using red meat, simmer for about an hour or until the meat is chewy and tender but not falling apart. If you are using chicken, skip ahead immediately.

Add carrots and potatoes. Return to a simmer and cook uncovered until vegetables and meat are tender, about 30 more minutes for red meat, or 45 minutes total if using chicken.

Remove the meatless bones, lemongrass and star anise. Taste and add salt or fish sauce as needed. I added some salt to the pot, and also served fish sauce at the table for people to add to taste.

Finishing and serving

Leave the stew simmering while you prepare the noodles. You’re going to serve it over cold, wet noodles, so you want it to be a touch too hot to eat straight.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Boil the pre-soaked XL noodles for one minute. Immediately drain and run under cold water. Divide evenly into bowls. This is most easily down with your hands. It feels great, if you are into that kind of thing.

Distribute the meat, carrot and potato evenly among the bowls. Spoon the broth over, then garnish with some of the sliced onion, and chopped cilantro and Thai basil. Put the garnishes out for people to add more. Serve with crusty bread and spicy red wine.

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Oh, this goat stew was so good. Goat is so hard to get here, which made this a real treat. Picture pre-garnishing.
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XL NOODLES CLOSE UP
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Chicken version. The noodles are hiding in this photo.

A note about flavour development

I made the goat version a day ahead, and it tasted much better reheated the next day than it did on the first day. The first day, it was a bit thin tasting. If I made the goat version again to have on the same day, I would substitute beef stock in place of some of the water.

I made a chicken version on a weeknight to eat it immediately. I replaced 2/3 of the water with homemade stock, which made the broth so rich.

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