Monday, June 11, 2012

Bo Kho Revisited

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The last pot of homemade bo kho was a beauty! Grandpa and I kept asking Mom to make another pot, but she was waiting for beef spare ribs to go on sale. And what do you know, they went on sale last week.

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The spare ribs were rinsed off and then put in a large mixing bowl with a package of a bo kho spice blend, a bit of salt, and a bit of sugar. Mom noticed that the spice blend wasn’t as vibrant.

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She prefers to use this brand.

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As the meat was marinating in the fridge, daikon and carrots were peeled and cut into chunks. Mom noticed that one of the daikon wasn’t that good. She said that the white pattern in the daikon meant that it was fibrous. It was still edible though. I asked her how you can tell if they were fibrous when you buy them. No response. *Shrug* Moving on...

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The lemongrass, garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, and marinated meat were browned in a stockpot until fragrant. The pot was then topped up with water, seasoned with fish sauce, salt and sugar. The beginnings of the bo kho simmered away in the evening. A small bowl of bo kho was reserved to make a slurry with flour. Once the bo kho cooled off, the slurry was mixed and then added into the stockpot to thicken the bo kho.

To prevent overcooking, the beef tendons, chunks of daikon and carrots were blanched and set aside in the fridge. Before we went to bed, the bo kho was brought up to a boil for a minute or so and then turned off.

In the morning, the pot was brought to a boil before setting it to a gentle simmer. The tendons were added into the stockpot when the bo kho was boiling. Then about two hours before we ate, the daikon and carrots were thrown in to finish cooking. Cilantro, green onions, onions and some lime were sliced and plated up for garnishes. Rice noodles were soaked (both thin ones and the wide ones).

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When everyone arrived for lunch, everything was ready to be assembled. The soaked noodles were cooked in boiling water for a second and then placed in a soup bowl. The Vietnamese beef stew was ladled into the bowl and topped with the various garnishes.

For my bowl, I used the wide rice noodles like last time. The stew was still soupy and wouldn't really be considered to be a stew by North American standards, however, the bo kho was thicker than last time. When comparing this bo kho to the one Mom made last time, I'd say they were both enjoyable. Although, in saying that, I got a bunch of little bone fragments from the spare ribs. They must've chipped off from stirring the pot or something. If you aren't willing to put up with that, you can use bone-in beef shanks instead.

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The next day, I had leftover bo kho with thin rice noodles for lunch. We unfortunately ran out of the wide noodles though. The proportion of noodles to bo kho was off. There was too much noodles. Even when I placed a bit of noodles in my spoon, the thin rice noodles didn't feel right. Womp womp! It’s like eating pizza on tortillas. It’s just not the same.

I miss wide rice noodles!

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