Monday, June 14, 2010

Vietnamese Beef Stew

The French have had a lot of influence in Vietnamese cuisine (maybe there are some good things that have come out of colonization).


Combine the very French technique of stewing with ingredients like bay leaves and tomatoes, with an assortment of fragrant Vietnamese ingredients like lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon, curry powder, fish sauce. Garnish with coriander and served with a fresh baguette…what do you get?


I lovely Vietnamese beef stew!


Bread spread with butter dipped into stewing liquid of fragrant ingredients (lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon, curry powder, Chinese five spice powder, fish sauce plus much much more)  = a mouthful of heaven!
Ingredients
1 kg stewing beef, chopped into cubes
4-5 slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, bruised
1 tablespoon annatto seeds
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised (only use the bottom third of the stalk – mainly the white part) 
3 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 cup of whole shallots 
2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped in half
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 cups tomatoes (around 4 tomatoes), peeled, seeded and diced
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 medium sized carrots, chopped into 1-1 ½ inch pieces
1 large potato, chopped into 1-1 ½ inch pieces
coriander for garnish 
serve with baguette (spread with butter)


(Cubed stewing beef)
(Annatto seeds)
(1 cup of whole shallots)
(Fresh baguette from Lawley's)
Method


Par-boil the beef cubes, scoop beef pieces out of the pot with a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water. Reserve the water that you have used to par-boil the beef for stewing, skimming away any impurities.


Heat wok, add in some peanut oil and fry garlic and ginger together for 1 minute until aromatic. Then add in the beef cubes and fry quickly to sear the beef until it begins to brown on all sides. (Sear the beef in two batches) Remove the beef, garlic and ginger from the wok and put into a bowl.
Heat up a pot, add in 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and then add in 1 tablespoon of annatto seeds. The seeds will start to release their colour, stir until the oil turns orangey/red. Then scoop out the seeds and discard. (The red colour of the stew comes from the use of annatto seeds which also provide a slightly sweet and peppery flavour to the stew)
Then add into the pot – lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, chillies, curry powder, Chinese five spice powder, tomatoes, tomato paste, hoisin sauce and shallots, and fry for 2-3 minutes until all the ingredients are combined and it is aromatic.
Add the bowl of beef cubes into the pot, including the garlic and ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes until the beef is coated with the ingredients in the pot.


Add water to the pot till it covers the beef (use the reserved water from par-boiling the beef), bring to boil and then simmer on low heat for 1 ½ hours. 


After 1 ½ hours of simmering, add in fish sauce, salt and sugar to taste. Then add in the carrots and potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the beef is fall apart tender.
Before serving – remove the lemongrass, ginger, star anise and cinnamon, and do a final taste the stew to see if any further seasoning (salt, sugar or fish sauce) is required to intensify the overall flavour and you can add in a little water to lighten/thin out the stewing liquid if necessary.


Serve garnished with coriander and slices of baguette.
Another way of eating this stew is with rice noodles. Cook some rice noodles according to the packet instructions and then spoon the stew on top.
BON APETIT!!

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