"This is a great example of how the Vietnamese have turned a traditional French stew into a classic Vietnamese dish. There are many versions of 'bo kho' throughout Vietnam, and this one is the northern version. I use sarsaprilla in this recipe, as I find it complements the star anise, but if you can't find sarsparilla, use stout instead.." – Chef Luke Nguyen

SERVES 6-8, as part of a shared meal


3 star anise
2 cloves
1 piece of cassia bark
½ teaspoon of five-spice
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
170 ml sarsaparilla
700 g beef brisket, cut into 5 x 2cm pieces
700 g oxtail, washed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 red Asian shallots, chopped plus 4 extra peeled and left whole
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated puree)
2 tablespoons annatto oil
2 litres beef stock base for pho
25 g  carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 handful Vietnamese basil leaves
Vietnamese baguettes, to serve


Heat a small fry pan over low heat and dry-roast the star anise, cloves and cassia bark separately for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool, then grind the spices using a mortar and pestle. Combine the ground spice and the five-spice in a large mixing bowl, then add the rice wine, hoisin sauce and sarsaparilla. Add the beef brisket and oxtail and mix wll. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate overnight.

Place a large wok over medium heat, then add the oil, chopped shallots and garlic. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until the shallots become translucent. Working in two batches, add the beef brisket and increase the heat. Continue to stir-fry until the meat is sealed on all sides. Remove to a large saucepan or stockpot.

Add the oxtail, tomato paste and annatto oil to the wok and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Remove from the wok and add to the saucepan with the brisket.

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Add the stock and bring it all to the boil, skimming any impurities off the surface, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Add the whole shallots and cook for a further 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Once the beef is cooked, add the carrots and cook for a further 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the Vietnamese basil. Serve with the baguettes.

Recipe from Luke's Book - Indochine: Baguettes to Banh Mi, Finding France in Vietnam. Click here to purchase the book now.

Phuong Nguyen