Asian Beef Stew with Basil

The unusually warm weather this year has left our hearty cast iron pots a wee bit lonely in the pantry. Those stick-to-the-bone stews that I typically churn out through the winter have been shelved for skinnier salads and lighter soups. Although I ran across a unique beef stew recipe in the April issue of Food and Wine that was novel enough to tickle life into an anemic winter appetite. What makes it interesting is the fusion of herbs, spices and medley of aromatics from fragrant lemongrass to licorice-flavored star anise, potent ginger and sweet basil. The resulting flavors are distinctly Asian and very good.  

Simmered for an hour, the beef is rendered into succulent and tender chunks that absorb the wide range of warm spices and herbs. The broth is reduced and the stew is served over a plate of rice noodles and topped with basil for a refreshing contrast to an otherwise heavy soup. This is definitely a soup that I will be making again.

Asian Beef Stew with Basil
From Food and Wine April, 2012 issue
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, lower third only, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1 whole lemongrass stalk, cut into 3-inch lengths and lightly smashed
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked medium-thick rice noodles, for serving
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 long fresh red chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  1. Marinate the meat. In a mini food processor, mince the garlic with the lemongrass. Add the soy sauce, oil, salt, sugar and five-spice powder and pulse to combine. In a large bowl, toss the beef with the marinade to coat thoroughly. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. 
  2. Make the stew. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add half of the meat; cook until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining meat. 
  3. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the onion, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of water, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until glossy, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return the meat to the casserole. Add the carrots, star anise and lemongrass. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 hour and 45 minutes. 
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 4 cups, 3 minutes. Discard the star anise and lemongrass. Return the beef to the casserole. Season the stew with salt and serve over noodles. Garnish with the basil and red chile.


kale @ tastes good to me! said...

Love those lemon grass stalks! Wish I could find some here.

This stew looks beautiful and so full of flavor!

Belinda @zomppa said...

I love cast iron skillets, but you're right, I tend to use them more in the winter. This stew looks awesome - can almost smell it. Bet that beef is so tender.

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I'd have to agree that my stews and soups barely made it to the kitchen because of our mild winter. This looks like an interesting twist on beef stew!

Claudia said...

The last few days have grown chilly again and this is just the comfort I need. I love using the lemongrass stalks and the "Asian" take on this. My cast iron pot has been lonely also. It's in the cabinet waiting in anticipation for this.

Velva said...

I can really enjoy a hearty stew like this one even in warmer months. Delicious.


Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

We didn't have our usual stews or pot roast this year either. Love the Asian flavors in this Christine. I also just happen to have a pot of fresh basil on my porch that will come in quite handy too.

Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking said...

What a mouthwatering stew! It looks so delicious and very simple. Thanks for sharing!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

It's been cooler here lately after our crazy, warm March. I'm not adverse to cooking up a meal like this through April. It looks wonderful!

Jamie said...

What I love is that I am about to post the French version of this same dish - which shows the magic of cooking, foods across cultures and how the same basic ingredients can make two very different dishes. I love the Asian flavors and wish we could trade bowls and taste!

Magic of Spice said...

My kids would love this! Such unique flavors for a stew...I can see why you were drawn to it :)

nancy at good food matters said...

very few hearty soups and stews got simmered in my kitchen as well. it was never really cold. but I think I'd enjoy this Asian take on beef stew any time of year. wonderful departure from an Old World classic.