There’s really only one name in the Vietnamese beef jerky game in America and everyone knows it: Vua Kho Bo. Literally and figuratively, it’s the king of Vietnamese style beef jerky. While there are a few imitators, ask Vietnamese-American loving beef jerky enthusiast and that’s the top of the list. Maybe their popularity is because they give out unlimited samples of their jerky (and the teas and dried fruits aren’t too bad either) or their eager customer service (some would say overzealous) or the fact that almost all their stores are centered in densely populated Vietnamese-American communities in California. But there’s no doubt that their jerky is the gold standard. Our out of state relatives hoard their stuff as if they were preparing for the apocolypse. We don’t know for sure, but their mail order business to the rest of the contiguous US (free shipping if you buy over 10 lbs) is a huge part of their business.
Ironically though, Vua Kho Bo is part of a Taiwanese snack and tea company named Lao Zi Hao. But their flavors certainly fit perfectly into Vietnamese flavor profiles. Unlike American style jerky, Vua Kho Bo jerky tends to more moist and tender and of course, packed with Asian flavors. Curry, five spice, sesame, and honey all popular flavors. But the one we use the most is their spicy lemongrass beef jerky. We love it because it’s perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and aroma of lemongrass. It’s a ground beef type of jerky which makes it more tender as well. Whether it’s for snacking or topping on our favorite goi du du (papaya salad) our favorite flavor.
Recently we acquired an Excalibur dehydrator from Craigslist (dirt cheap, yay!) and have been putting it through ringer. If you’re in the market for one, we recommend the dehydrators with the square trays. The round ones with a hole in the center would not be ideal for this. At over $20 per pound, Vua Kho Bo is an expensive indulgence. Thats why this was our first recipe we made on it and we’re super excited to share it with you all. In fact, we made 10 lbs worth of jerky and gave some to our relatives who raved about it proclaimed they never had to buy from Vua Kho Bo again! Welp!
Spicy Lemongrass Beef Jerky Vua Kho Bo style
Yield: 2 lbs jerky
Cook Time: 3 hours
Use the leanest cut of beef available. We prefer eye round or top/bottom round and grind ourselves using a food processor after trimming out excess fat and silver skin. Pre-ground beef would work, just make sure it's extra lean. You would still process it and it'all go faster. You will need a food dehydrator and dehydrator sheets. If you don't have a dehydrator you can try using the oven at the lowest setting, but we have not tested that method. Your final yield is about 2/3rd the weight of your original beef so scale this recipe to your desired quantity.
3 lbs of ground lean beef (eye round, top round, bottom round, sirloin)
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tbs fine white pepper
1.5 cup finely minced lemongrass (white stem portion only)
4-6 tbs chile flakes
1/4 cup white sesame seeds (optional)
3 tbs honey
2 tbs water
In food processor, grind meat in small batches until it clumps into a ball and becomes a sticky paste like texture.
Combine all the seasonings and massage the meat until it incorporates well and has a sticky like consistency. Allow to marinade and flavors to absorb for at least 4 hrs to overnight refrigerated.
Place a mound of meat onto dehydrator sheet. Using plastic wrap or parchment the size of the dehydrator sheet, lay it over meat then press down and flatten the meat until you can roll out with a rolling pin into a flat square, about 4-5 mm or 3/16 inch thick. Add more meat as necessary until you form a large square. Repeat until all the meat is rolled onto dehydrator sheets.
Dehydrate at 145 F for about 3 hours (you may have to adjust this base on the thickness of your jerky--shorter time will be more moist and soft, longer than this it will be chewy and maybe hard), flipping once half way through. About 30 minutes before it's done, combine the honey and water and mix well. Brush one side and allow to dry for 15 minutes. Flip and repeat with the opposite side. Remove from dehydrator sheets and store in airtight ziplock bags or vacuum seal. These should keep for months but we promise they won't last that long. Enjoy as a snack or in your favorite goi du du salad.