Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lemongrass beef stew - Vietnamese

If you've ever been to Slanted Door in San Francisco you know what delicious means. I've only been once, but holy cow I was totally blown away by the flavors.

So when I came across this recipe from Charles Phan (the chef at Slanted Door) I knew it would be delicious. And it did NOT disappoint.

I know that pictures don't quite do this dish justice (hate the lack of light in the wintertime). But if you can imagine the aroma of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and star anise permeating through this beefy broth, you'll understand how delicious this stew is.

The dish is also loaded with carrots, radish, and basilwhich really complement the rich flavors of the broth. Throw in some rice and you've got a complete meal!

Lemongrass Beef Stew, adapted from the book Vietnamese Home Cooking
(found on Serious Eats)

Serves 6, active time 45 minutes, total time 2 hours and 45 minutes
Original recipe is below; my substitutions are noted.


3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (I used 2.5 pounds of English pot roast cut in 1” cubes)
4 TBSP canola oil, divided (1 TBSP + 3 TBSP)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups diced yellow onion (~1 medium/large onion)
2 tsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
1/4 cup finely minced lemongrass (~3 stalks, fatty ones)
3 TBSP tomato paste
2 x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
2 whole star anise pods
1 or 2 Thai chilies, stemmed, plus 1 teaspoon minced, for garnish
6 cups beef stock
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths (I used 5 smaller carrots)
8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
~2 TBSP fish sauce
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh Thai basil, for garnish

  1. Place the beef in a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Let stand while you prepare all of the other ingredients.
  2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, working in batches, add the beef and cook, turning as needed, for about 6-8 minutes, until browned on all side. As each batch is ready, transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet. (Note: It took me 3 batches to avoid overcrowding in my 5 qt Le Cruset)
  3. Decrease the heat to medium and add the onion to the now-empty pot. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes, until the onion is a deep golden brown. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more. Add tomato paste, cook for 2 minutes. Add lemongrass, ginger, star anise, and whole chile to taste and stir to combine. (Note: The original recipe said to transfer the mixture to a large clay pot at this point, but I kept the dish in my dutch oven.)
  4. Add the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot and pour in the stock. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, decrease the heat so the liquid is at a gentle simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours, until the meet is just tender.
  5. Add the carrots and daikon, re-cover, and cook for 30 minutes longer, until the vegetables are cooked through and the meat is very tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, to taste.
  6. Top each serving with some of the basil and minced chilles, optional. (I added some cooked rice directly to my bowl for a more filling meal.)


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