Vietnamese Short Rib Stew

stew 1There are many variations of Vietnamese beef stew, but what they all have in common are intensely aromatic herbs and spices. Star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass, cilantro, mint, basil…these ingredients turn beef stew into a vibrant meal, rather than a bland, beige bowl of meat.

Those herbs and spices don’t just smell good, though. There’s a reason herbs and spices have a spot at the top of the Primal Blueprint food pyramid.

Herbs and spices are full of antioxidants, health benefits and medicinal qualities.

Throw in some gelatin-rich short ribs, and this stew is about as nourishing as a meal can get.

Adding even more flavor and aroma, the ingredient list continues with ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and in this Primal version, coconut aminos. When this stew is simmering on your stove, even your neighbors across the street are going to smell it cooking. And they’re going to be jealous.

Servings: 4 to 6

Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes, plus 2 to 3 hours to simmer



  • 2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs* (900 g)
  • 1 tablespoon lard or coconut oil (15 ml)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (45 ml)
  • 4 cups beef stock (or enough to just cover the short ribs) (950 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (30 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (30 ml)
  • 3 3-inch/7.6 cm pieces of lemongrass, smashed with the flat side of a knife or a meat tenderizer
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-inch/2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch/2.5 cm pieces

*This recipe can also be made with boneless beef stew meat


spare ribs

Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat lard in a wide Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs in small batches, brown them on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Decrease heat to medium and add onion. Cook until soft and brown, 8 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook for about 1 minute, stirring.

Add beef stock, coconut aminos, fish sauce, lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon and ginger.

Simmer with a lid for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is so tender that it easily falls from the bone. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, add the carrot and daikon radish to the pot.

The stew can be eaten immediately, but it also re-heats really well over the next few days.

Use coconut aminos, fish sauce, hot chiles, fresh lime, and fresh herbs like mint, Thai basil and cilantro to add more flavor to the finished stew.

stew 2

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12 thoughts on “Vietnamese Short Rib Stew”

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  1. This looks great and thanks for the meat swap info, as short ribs can be difficult for me to find. One question, though, could grass fed lamb shanks be used or would their flavor be too bold for the spice combo?

    Oh, while you are on you Asian food kick, don’t forget about Central Asia. I have been having fun with an old Soviet Union era cookbook that includes recipes for all the parts of the animal, Please to Table.

      1. I didn’t have beef stock to hand, so just used water and chucked in some empty marrow bones (the goodness inside had long been scarfed) to simmer alongside the rest of the ingrediants. Also didn’t have cinnamon sticks so just used powdered cinnamon. Smells great already!

      2. The anchovies in fish sauce will work fine with lamb. When roasting a leg of lamb, I often use chopped up anchovies along with garlic and rosemary to push into slits in the flesh before cooking- it’s delicious.

  2. Nom Nom Paleo has a great version of Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) for the Instant Pot pressure cooker. I like the addition of the daikon radish in this version and I’ll definitely be trying this out very soon.

  3. We tried this recipe out today and my husband says it is a keeper! Success! I made a few small changes to the recipe: I added a bit more short ribs as I had them in the freezer and and more carrots as I didn’t have daikon. Everything else was spot on. My husband was impressed that the seasoning didn’t need to be adjusted. Delish!

  4. Wow! I made this tonight and it was fantastic. Over the last 5 years, I have tried quite a few recipes from MDA, and I think this is my favorite recipe to date!

  5. My sweetie has recently requested more Asian recipes in our rotation, I tend to lean on my French influences with a bit of Latin and Eastern European here and there. I think recipe will be a candidate for the upcoming week. I imagine one could also sub oxtails for the short ribs thus still getting the benefits of cooking those bones in with all the other ingredients.

  6. Great!! – made it twice – fantastic.

    House cleaning – its easy to improvise this one, but the recipe never states on when to add the ribs back in, or the daikon ;-). Also – the smallest Daikon at my market is about 4 pounds (korean variety) !! so a portion might be 1-2 cups as prepared.

    Great recipe!!. My Vietnamese friends love it.

  7. Just made this, delicious! The broth is spot on! I can’t believe how rich and satisfying it is. I didn’t have access to grass-fed short ribs or stew beef, so I substituted bison stew meat instead which is much less fatty and just added more lard. I also forgot to pick up an onion, so I substituted the shallots that I had. With how amazing the broth is, I can imagine you can substitute and add things with only slight consequence on how satisfying it tastes.

  8. This is medicine for the body. I feel alive when i have the broth. Today i have two pots on the go, one for my elderly parents. Thanks so much for this amazing food