Vietnamese Beef Stew with Green Peppercorns (“Bo Ham Tieu Xanh”) features tender beef cubes in a flavorful sauce with mild heat and zestiness from fresh green peppercorns. It also often includes potatoes and carrots, and is served with crusty bread to soak up the yummy sauce.
There are quite a lot of ways to make beef stew in Vietnam. If you are somewhat serious about Vietnamese cuisine, you probably have heard of “bo kho“, a Southern Vietnamese beef stew dish. “Bo Ham Tieu Xanh” is a different Southern Vietnamese beef stew dish, which I sometimes enjoy even more than “bo kho“.
What is Green Peppercorn (“tieu xanh“)
Green peppercorns are unripe peppercorns. Though they are milder than black peppercorns, the green counterparts are more flavorful and fresher with fruitiness and zestiness.
Fresh green peppercorns can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks. They will slowly get darker, losing the beautiful green color.
As far as I know, it is not very common to see green peppercorns in Northern cuisine. They are usually used in Southern dishes both for their flavors as well as their aesthetic appeal.
How to Cook Vietnamese Beef Stew with Green Peppercorns
To make “Bo Ham Tieu Xanh“, the main ingredients you will need are:
- cubed beef: my favorite cut of beef for stew is beef shank. If you cannot find this cut, beef chuck also works.
- fresh green peppercorns
- potatoes and carrots
- aromatics and seasonings you may already have such as garlic, shallots, bay leaves, onion and salt.
Savory Southern Vietnamese dishes often have some sweetness, the level of which is sometimes pretty pronounced. For Bo Ham Tieu Xanh, I braise the beef in coconut juice to add natural sweetness to the dish, and avoid the need to use refined sugar.
Cooking Notes for Green Peppercorns Beef Stew
This dish is very easy to make at home, and you can cook a large batch to enjoy over a couple days. I cook mine on the stovetop in a Staub cocotte. An enameled Dutch oven is also excellent.
The cooking steps are quite straightforward. Make sure you sear the beef cubes first until brown. Then sauté the aromatics, add the beef back along with green peppercorns and other ingredients. Simmer until the beef is tender to your liking.
After being simmered, the fresh peppercorns will burst and lose their green color. You can add some uncooked green peppercorns to serving bowls for garnishing. It’s best to serve this Vietnamese beef stew with banh mi (or baguettes and other crusty bread) to soak up the flavorful sauce.
I’m quite sure you can also cook this dish in a slow cooker or pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot) though I haven’t tried it out for myself yet. My guess is it may take 3-4 hours on High in a slow cooker or 30 minutes in a pressure cooker. If you try these two methods, I’d love to hear how it works for you.
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Vietnamese Beef Stew with Green Peppercorns (Bo Ham Tieu Xanh)
For the beef
- 1 small onion, cut into wedges (about 1/2-2/3 cup)
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 oz green peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon tomato paste
- 2 cups fresh coconut juice
- 1 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 carrots, peeled and rolled-cut
- Cut beef into 1.5-inch thick cubes and mix with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon olive oil and black pepper. Set aside. If you have time, you can marinate for 1-2 hours for tastier results.
- Cut onion into wedges, slice shallots and mince garlic. Also use a pestle and mortar to slighly crack 1 teaspoon of green peppercorns (or roughly chop with a knife).
- In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium to medium-high heat, add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add beef cubes and sear until brown. Transfer to a bowl.
- Lower heat to medium. Add onion wedges to the pot and sauté until onion is fragrant. Add shallots, garlic and cracked green peppercorns and sauté briefly until fragrant.
- Add beef cubes back together with 2 teaspoons of flour, stir well. Then add tomato paste and also stir well.
- Add coconut juice and water and once it starts to boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bay leaves. With the lid slightly askew (to leave a small space between the lid and the rim of the pot), gently simmer until beef is almost tender to your liking. I simmer mine for about 70-80 minutes.
- Add carrots and potatoes to the pot and cook until beef, potatoes and carrots are tender to your liking (which is about 20 minutes for me).
- Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. You may also adjust the consistency of the sauce with additional water (to thin it out) or flour (to thicken it).
- Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with some fresh uncooked green peppercorns (optional). Serve hot with banh mi or your favorite crusty bread.