Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thit Bo Kho Mang (Vietnamese Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots)

Thit Bo Kho voi Mang (Vietnamese Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots) 1

Dried bamboo provides an earthy component to this braised dish. While I would normally use pork, I happened to have beef on hand and it worked just fine.

Making caramel sauce is a must for this dish to provide color and flavor to the meat. If you're not going to do this step, then skip the sugar in the recipe as the coconut juice will provide plenty of sweetness on its own. The coconut juice will mostly cook off, leaving behind a slight sweetness to add depth. If you don't want any coconut juice at all, then simply substitute with water.

Thit Bo Kho voi Mang (Vietnamese Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots) 2

Thit Bo Kho voi Mang (Vietnamese Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots)

For a 2-quart pot, you'll need:
Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce)
1 lb beef stew meat, or any beef cut into chunks
As many Bamboo shoots as you wish, soaked and drained
1 medium onion, sliced or diced, and/or a few cloves of garlic if you wish
1 cup fresh coconut juice, or substitute with Coco Rico
About 1 tblsp fish sauce, or more according to taste
About 1 tsp black pepper

Soak bamboo shoots in water for about 15 minutes to soften. I used about a dozen pieces. Drain. Cut into 2- or 3-inch sections for ease in eating.

Cut meat into 2-inch wide chunks. Slice or dice onions. Set aside.

Make Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce). When the sugar caramelizes, add the meat and stir. Add the onion, bamboo shoots, and about 1 cup of coconut juice, or half a can of Coco Rico, and enough water to cover the meat with about an inch of water over. Stir again to mix it up. If you like sweeter meat, you can use additional coconut juice in lieu of the water. Taste and adjust sugar or fish sauce if necessary.

Turn heat down to medium low and allow to simmer for at least half an hour, ideally an hour. The water will cook down and meld everything together -- the beef and onions will soften, the earthiness of the bamboo shoots, the almost burnt sugar takes on a deep molasses flavor, the saltiness of the fish sauce balances it all. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve with rice.


1 year ago today, Grapevine Mediterranean Cuisine - La Verne (Closed).
2 years ago today, dangling strings and finishing up some quilt projects.


  1. Maybe you could enlighten me on bamboo shoots. I find some overpowering pungent and some tasteless. Why?

  2. Ivy,
    I don't know enough about bamboo shoots to answer for sure. I think it depends on the variety and if you get a young shoot or an old one? And dried bamboo shoots are definitely much more pungent so if you don't like that, stick to the young, fresh ones.

  3. It's the morning after I've cooked Thit Bo Kho (sans bamboo shoots) and guess what I had for breakfast?...Arent leftovers the best! Was going to cook the other Bo Kho recipe but my neighbourhood supermarket either don't carry the spices or what they have is just too expensive (10 star anise for 2.50GBP!). Anyway, I followed your recipe just added veg I had on hand(shitake mushrooms, 1/2 red pepper, 1 carrot, 1 potato and 1/4 cabbage) as I couldn't find them shoots in my area. I also used chicken stock instead of water and 1 tsp hoisin sauce (just 'cause I have a whole jar & don't know what else to do with it). And it turned out out-of-this-world yummy! Oh, and I used oxtail as well. It was a big hit with my 18-mo. old and hubby. Thanks for making me look like I know what I'm doing in the kitchen. I'm a big fan of yours and it looks like my dad in SF is following suit. Damn, those bamboo shoots look yummy.

  4. Dewunderrock,
    Awww, your comment was just too sweet. I'm so glad my recipes help you feed your family well. Thanks so much for trying my recipes and letting me know what you did and how it turned out. I hope you'll be able to find spices for the other bo kho recipe some day.

  5. Thit Kho is the best. Total comfort food for me. I usually only eat it when my family makes it but I think I'll give it a go this weekend. I like my thit kho with some hard boiled eggs and deep fried tofu added too! As you mentioned, it's usually made with pork. Any recommendations on what type of pork I should use/buy?

  6. Michael,
    I usually buy the shoulder or butt portion. It's cheap and less fatty than cooking with pork belly, but still has a bit of skin and fat for that unctuousness that makes thit kho so good.

  7. Hello once again. A pot of TBKVM for my bro's bday is currently stewing on the hob. Now that I'm back in SF I finally get to try this dish with the proper ingredients. Yup, got myself a bag of dried bamboo shoots. But because my bad habit of tweaking just won't go away, I made a couple of changes/additions: I used lamb neck bones instead of stewing beef (got a good deal on 'em)& added dried lily blossoms & woodear mushrooms which I can imagine working with the dish (& just 'cause I like 'em). I have very high hopes that the dish will turn out to be yum-worthy (fingers crossed). Thanks for continually inspiring me in the kitchen.

  8. Dewunderrock,
    How much do I love that you love this recipe so much you made it several times? :) Your adaptations sound great to me.

  9. Can i use canned bamboo shoot tips instead of dry bamboo ?

  10. Benny,
    Yup. You just don't have to cook it as long since canned bamboo is softer than dried and doesn't have to be reconstituted.


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