Vietnamese aromatic & spicy beef stew

Yield: 6 Servings

Measure Ingredient
2 Onions; medium
6 Yellow bean sauce
2 Garlic cloves
1 Chilli powder
12 Shallots or Pickling Onions
4 Star Anise; whole
1 Stick lemon grass OR
1 Stick cinnamon
3 X 1" strip lemon rind
½ teaspoon Whole peppercorns
7 tablespoons Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Sugar
3 pounds Stewing beef in 1" cubes

Peel and finely chop onions and garlic. Peel shallots and leave them whole. Cut lemon grass into 2" sections, after discarding the strawlike top. Crush each section. Put 3 tablespoons of oil intpo a non-stick frying pan and set on a medium- high heat. When it is hot, add the onions, garlic and shallots and fry for 2 mins. Add the lemon grass, but not the lemon rind if you are using it as a substitute.

Continue to fry until onions are lightly browned. Turn off the heat and remove the shallots from the pan and put them aside. Put the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil in a large, preferably non-stick pan and set over a high heat. when hot, add enough beef cubes to form a single layer in the pan. Brown the cubes and remove, replacing with more beef until they are all brown. Rturn all browned beef to pan and add 1¾ pints water as well as the onion, garlic and lemon grass mixture. Add yellow bean sauce, chilli powder, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and sugar. Bring to the boil then cover, lowering the heat and simmering gently for 1¼ hours. Add the reserved shallots and the lemon rind (if you are using it), cover again and simmer for 15 mins. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium and cook for a further 15-20 mins or until the sauce has thickened a little and the meat is tender. Spoon the fat of the top before serving with either rice or crusty french bread.

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