Vietnamese Beef Stew

  • 2 - 2 1/4 lbs well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, loose leaves discarded, cut into 3-inch lengths and bruised with the broad side of a cleaver or chef's knife (or 4 tablespoons paste - need to verify T. vs. t.)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 yellow onion or 8 ounces shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomato in purée; (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole star anise
  • About 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Vietnamese coriander or Thai basil
  1. In a bowl, combine beef, lemongrass, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, brown sugar, and bay leaf.
    Mix well to evenly coat. Set aside to marinate 30 minutes.

  2. In a heavy-bottomed 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.
    Working in batches, sear beef on all sides, then transfer to a plate.
    Each batch should take about 3 minutes total.
    Reserve lemongrass, bay leaf, and leftover marinade.

  3. Lower heat to medium-low, add onions and cook gently, stirring, until fragrant and soft, 4-5 minutes.
    Add tomatoes and salt. Cover and cook until mixture is fragrant and has reduced to a rough paste, 12-14 minutes.
    Check occasionally to make sure tomato is not sticking to bottom of pan.
    If it is, stir well and splash in some water.

  4. When a paste has formed, add beef, reserved marinade ingredients and star anise.
    Give a big stir, then cook, uncovered, to meld flavors, about 5 mintues.
    Add water, bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat.
    Simmer until beef is chewy-tender (close to being done), about 1 1/4 hours.
    Press on a piece; it should yield but still feel firm.

  5. Add carrots and return to simmer, adjusting heat if needed. Cook, uncovered, until carrots and beef are tender, about 30 minutes. (Everything up to this point can be done up to 2 days in advance, then cooled, covered and refrigerated. Bring to a simmer before continuing.)

  6. Before serving, taste. Add salt or a shot of fish sauce to intensify flavor, or splash in water to lighten. Remove and discard lemongrass, bay leaf, and star anise. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with herbs.

Butch found this recipe in the Wall Street Journal

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