Vietnamese-Style Beef Stew


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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This recipe is a Vietnamese version of beef stew that is similar in some ways to the Chinese one. However, the seasonings are slightly different, with the use of aromatic lemon grass.

Be sure to use an inexpensive cut of beef such as brisket or shin. This is a perfect dish for a cold winter’s night. Plain steamed rice is an ideal accompaniment to this hearty and very tasty dish. The stew can also be made and allowed to cool, then re-heated later, garnished and served.


  • 4 stalks fresh lemon grass
  • 1.4 kg (3 lb) stewing beef, such as brisket or shin
  • 4 spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 slices fresh root ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red chilli
  • 450 g (1 lb) carrots

For the Braising Sauce

  • 900 ml ( pints) Chicken Stock
  • 50 g (2 oz) rock sugar or plain sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 2 teaspoonsfive-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Garnish

  • 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil


Peel the lemon grass stalks to reveal the tender, whitish centre and crush with the flat of a knife. Then cut it into 7.5-cm (3-in) pieces. Cut the meat into 5-cm (2-in) cubes. Slice the spring onions at a slight diagonal into 5-cm (2-in) segments.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the beef. Pan-fry until it is brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. Add the spring onions, chopped onion, ginger, garlic and chilli and stir-fry with the beef for about 5 minutes.

Transfer this mixture to a large casserole or pan. Add the braising sauce ingredients. Bring the liquid to the boil, skim off any fat from the surface and turn the heat as low as possible. Cover and braise for 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, peel the carrots and cut them at a slight diagonal into 5-cm (2-in) chunks. Add these to the meat and continue to cook the mixture for another 30 minutes or until the beef is quite tender. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside. Then turn the heat up to high and rapidly reduce the liquid for about 15 minutes. The sauce should thicken slightly. Return the vegetables to the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until they are warmed through. Ladle the stew into a large warm dish. Garnish with the chopped fresh basil and serve immediately.