Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Vietnamese beef stew hits the spot


Special to the Sun Herald

Vietnamese beef stew is a great dish.
Vietnamese beef stew is a great dish.

You might be surprised to learn that a classic Vietnamese dish is beef stew. It’s not the beef and potato sort of thing your mom made, but it is seriously good.

One of the big differences is the seasonings. Look for overtones of star anise and Thai cinnamon. Those may not seem like seasonings for a savory dish, but you would be wrong to think that. They are delicious. This dish is so fragrant, thanks to the Vietnamese-style seasonings.

Also look for big chunks of meaty carrots. I am not sure what makes those carrots so meaty, but they are. You can find them at almost any Asian market, and they are huge, easily two or three times the size of the carrots we are used to.

This beef stew has a tomato and beef stock base, not the thickened beef sauce we are used to. As always with Southeast Asian cuisines , this take on beef stew is well-balanced, savory, filling and soul-satisfying.

So many Vietnamese dishes come served with lots of fresh vegetables, almost as a self-serve garnish, but the beef stew is normally served with a simple garnish of green onion and thin slices of onion.

This dish also differs from pho in that you will not need to add any of the sauces you will find on the table. It will come perfectly seasoned. All you will need to do is to break up the crusty loaf of bread it is served with, and sop up every bite of this stew.