Spicy Beef and Carrot Stew (Bo Kho Ca Rot)

1/2 cup fish sauce 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder 2 tablespoons sugar
4 pounds short ribs on the bone, halved through the bone, or oxtail cut into 1-inch-thick pieces 1 tablespoons vegetable oil 4 to 6 small yellow onions, peeled
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed 3 ounces fresh ginger, cut into 3 slices and lightly crushed 2 cups young coconut juice or beef stock
2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves and tough green tops removed, root ends trimmed, and bulbs halved crosswise and lightly crushed 4 to 5 star anise 1 cinnamon stick, about 2-1/2 to 3 inches long
3 to 4 dried chilies or 2 to 3 fresh bird’s eye or Thai chilies 1 teaspoon annatto seeds 2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
1 Combine the fish sauce, five-spice powder, and sugar in a dish. Add the short ribs or oxtail, coating well, and allow to marinate, refrigerated, for 4 to 6 hours.
2 Heat together the oil, onions, garlic, and ginger in a sand pot or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Cook the ingredients, stirring often, until fragrant and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the marinated meat, scraping the marinade from the dish into the pot. Add the coconut juice or beef stock and cover the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon stick, chilies, and annatto seeds and simmer covered (occasionally turning the meat) over medium-low heat for 2 hours. Add carrots and continue braising until the meat falls off the bones, 1-1/2 to 2 hours more. Skim off the fat and serve with rice on the side.

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