Vietnamese Beef Stew with Star Anise

I love reading recipes books in in bed in fact on returning from a few days away from home my boyfreind proudly related he had carried 20 books back down from the bedroom. I am even prouder to say I just counted an in just a week 10 have made their way back upstairs.

Embarassingly I cook from most of them rarely,  but one I return to over and over again will never make it into lists of the 100 best cookbooks it is 500 Chilli Recipes published by Hermes House bought from one of those shopping centre discount bookshops on offer at  2 for 10 pounds (I also got a book of Korean Cookery)

Its a great recipe book for a chilli obsessive with dishes from all over the world , bright colour photos and clear instructions , each recip has a brief intro and although the recipes will lead me to a little reading around the internet  or my “proper” cookbooks but I constantly inspired by the this compilation book.

This beef with star anise stew is the most recent delicious example , the descriptions was

“The vietnamese eat this dish for breakfast and on chilly mornings people queue up for a bowl of this spicy stew on their way to work. In southern Vietnam it is served with chunks of baguette but in other regions it is served with noodles . For a midday/evening meal it is served with sticky rice . Traditionally the orange hue come from the oil in which annatto seeds have been fried in this recipe the colour comes from the tumeric”

Reading around a little more on the internet  or in my actual Vietnamese cookery book Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table echos the accuracy of this paragraph and provides the proper name I for this stew Bò Kho.

The dish thickened perfectly , though I did cook it in the afternoon and let it rest, so many levels it’s a great alternative to a standard beef stew , you can add carrots to add more bulk.

Serves 6

500g of lean beef cut into bitesize cubes ( I used a topside joint)
3 tsp of tumeric
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
1/2 stick of chinese cinammon
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 dried red chillis
1 bay leaf
2 lemon grass stalks bruised and chopped
1 tbsp of curry powder ( garam masala)
4 star anise roasted and ground , then seived to remove any big peices
1 pint of chicken stock
3 tbsp of thai fish sauce
2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
1 tbsp of raw cane sugar
handful of fresh basil leaves

  1. Toss the beef in the tumeric
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan frry the onion and garlic, chillis, bay leaf and lemon grass until fragrant
  3. Add the garam masala and 3/4 of the star anise and the beef
  4. Cook until the beef is browned add the stock, fish sauce , soy and sugar
  5. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer , with the lid off simmer for about an hour until the liquid is reduced and the beef is tender.
  6. Leave to rest for at least an hour.
  7. Before serving warm through add the rest of the star anise and the basic
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander and a few slices of fresh onion


  1. I really like the sound of this. I’m always looking for more interesting types of beef stew/casserole, especially with winter on the way. Good if you’re feeding a large group too.

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