Vietnamese beef stew with star anis

Vietnamese beef stew with star anis

The inspiration for this dish comes from the very talented Uyen Luu whose acclaimed supper clubs and food styling have been credited widely. 

After seeing many a beautiful post on Instagram, I sought out her cookbook 'My Vietnamese Kitchen'.  It was actually her beef stew with star anis that caught my attention as someone who's rather keen on the old stew!

There were a few ingredients i didn't have at home (annato seeds for colour), coconut water or cider, both of which are suggested as options, and carrots... So I took creative liberty and substituted carrots for parsnips (but I'd use carrots next time) , I omitted the annato completely and used some ground shaved coconut (unsweetened) mixed with water in place of coconut water. 

I also cooked the dish for longer as my chunks of beef were larger and I had more beef than Uyen suggests.

Here's the recipe for you. 

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 900g featherblade or beef chuck, cut into 3-4cm cubes 
  • 2tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2tsp ground cumin 
  • 10 star anis
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp mild paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 4cm ginger, peeled and diced finely
  • 4 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut  
  • 200ml water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp fish sauce
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 150g frozen peas
  • Fresh coriander and lime 

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan that has a lid.  Brown the beef in batches and reserve in a bowl.

Now add the onion, ginger and lemongrass to the pan and cook for a few minutes until softened.

Add the chilli, cumin, star anis, bay leaves, paprika, ground cloves and garlic to the pan and allow to cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. 

Now add the coconut, water and beef stock, the fish sauce, sugar and the parsnips.  Cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours. Remove the kid and cook for a further 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.

Thicken the sauce with slaked cornflour if you like at this point.  Then season with fresh lime juice and fish sauce. You want a perfect balance of salt, spice, sweet and acidity.

Serve with rice or noodles with more lime to the side and some fresh coriander.  Delicious! Thank you Uyen.

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