/ Saturday, December 6, 2008 / No comments / ,

Beef Stew With Star Anise And Basil

Thats it! I am now obsessed with Vietnamese food! I am out of control! Ha ha! Just kidding:)
Anyway, according to the writer of this cookbook, in Vietnam, there are people who would travel a great distances each morning just to get a perfect bowl of beef stew. At breakfast, thit bo kho (beef stew) is served with a French baguette, but at other meals it is usually accompanied by noodles or steamed rice.

As for me, I just had it for brunch. So, I served the beef stew with baguette. It was simply delicious! Well, I strongly recommend this cookbook, "Pleasure Of The Vietnamese Table" by Mai Pham. I have tested many of her recipes and all of them turned out great each time.

Beef Stew With Star Anise And Basil


3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp Annatto Seeds
2 Tbsp chopped Shallots
1/2 Tbsp chopped Garlic
1 lb Beef Chuck Roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
3 cups fresh water, Chicken Stock or store bought low sodium chicken broth, boil
2 Lemongrass stalks, lightly crushed with flat side of a knife and cut into 3 inch pieces.
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 Whole Star Anise
1 Tbsp Curry Powder, preferably Vietnamese Three Golden Bells brand
2 tsp chopped fresh red chilies or dried chilies, or to taste
3 Carrots, peeled and cut diagonal into 1/2 inch rounds (about 3 cups), blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and drained
1/2 cup Asian Basil Leaves
1/4 small Yellow Onion, sliced paper thin
5 sprigs Cilantro, cut into 2 inch lengths


Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the annatto seeds, stir a few times and remove immediately from the heat. (The seeds should foam upon contact but not burn). Let it stand for 10 minutes, then strain the oil and discard the seeds.

Heat half the annatto oil in a medium pan over a moderate heat. Add half the shallots and half the garlic and stir until fragrant, for about 10 seconds. Add the beef and stir until lightly seared, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the boiling chicken stock, lemongrass, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the beef is tender, about 40 minutes, skimming the top occasionally.

While the beef is cooking, lightly toast the star anise in a dry pan over a low heat until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pound to a fine powder. (You can also use a spice mill)

Heat the remaining annatto oil in a small saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the remaining shallots and garlic, star anise powder, curry powder, and chilies and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Set aside until ready to serve.

Fifteen minutes before the beef is done, add the carrots and cook until they are tender. Add the spice mixture and stir a few times. Stir in half the basil and transfer the stew to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining basil, yellow onions and cilantro and serve immediately.

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