Vietnamese Recipes

Spicy Steve's Vietnamese Recipes

Vietnamese Beef Stew

(thit bo kho)

A tasty beef stew to warm a cold winter’s night. The distinctive orange colour of this stew comes from the addition of the oil that has been fried and soaked in annatto seeds. Lemongrass, chillies, start anise and curry powder also figure prominently in this aromatic dish. This dish is eaten at breakfast with a mini French baguette or at other times of the day with noodles or rice.

- 3 cups beef stock
- 2 lb sirloin beef or stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 Tbsp Annatto seeds
- 4 Tbsp cooking oil
- 2 Tbsp shallots, chopped
- 1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
- 3 star anise
- 2 lemongrass stalks, lightly bruised and in 2 inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp curry powder (use Vietnamese or Thai if possible)
- 2 Tsp fresh or dried red chillies
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into diagonal rounds, blanched in water for 2 minutes and drained
- ½ cup Thai Basil leaves
- ¼ cup small yellow onion, sliced paper thin
- 8 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2 inch lengths

1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over low heat and add the annatto seeds. Stir a few times and remove immediately from the heat. The seeds will foam on contact with the heat but you don’t want them to burn. Let stand for 10 minutes and then drain off the oil and discard seeds.

2. Heat half the annatto oil in a large pot on a moderate heat. Add half the shallots, half the garlic, the lemongrass and stir until fragrant. Add the beef and sauté until the meat is lightly seared (about 3 minutes). Add the beef stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and bring to a boil.Then simmer for about 1 hour or until beef is tender.

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

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

5. About 20 minutes before the beef is done, add carrots and cook until tender. Add spice mixture and mix in well. Stir in half the basil and  transfer to serving bowl and garnish with yellow onion, remaining basil, and cilantro. Serve with steamed rice, rice noodles or French bread or baguettes.