Beef stews are a part of cooking all over the world. Cooks everywhere know they can simmer tough, inexpensive cuts of meat in a flavourful liquid then fill their bowls with a rich tender stew. My family loves this “Asian” version ladled over spinach leaves and bean sprouts. It’s a stew and a salad in the same bowl!
Yield: Dinner for four
A splash vegetable oil
1 pound stewing beef, cubed
a sprinkle or two Salt and Pepper
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 small knob unpeeled ginger, thinly sliced
1x 10 ounce can beef broth
1 cup orange juice
1 cup orange marmalade
A generous splash soy sauce
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
A sprinkle or two Salt and Pepper
1x 10 ounce bag baby spinach
A handful bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 handful cilantro leaves
Preheat a large pot over a medium-high heat and then splash in enough oil to thinly coat the bottom. Season, then sear the meat until it’s evenly browned on all sides. Searing the meat first adds lots of rich caramelized flavours before adding the liquids that lower the pot’s temperature to below what’s needed to brown. Remove the meat and set aside for a moment.
Add the onions and ginger and stir for a few minutes until they are lightly browned. (Ginger doesn’t always have to be peeledjust rinsed. The flesh doesn’t always have to be grated either, when it simmers it tenderizes nicely.) If the pan starts to burn, add a splash of water and continue.
Return the meat to the pot and add the beef broth, orange juice, marmalade, soy sauce and five-spice powder. Bring the works to a simmer and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting that will maintain the simmer. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot to contain the tenderizing steam. Continue simmering until the meat is tender enough to break into smaller pieces, about 1 hour. Taste and season the broth.
Divide the spinach and bean sprouts evenly between 4 bowls. Stir the green onions and cilantro leaves into the stewreserving a fewand ladle over the veggies. Top with a sprinkling of the reserved cilantro leaves and enjoy!
Equipment Hints: A thick bottomed stewing pot large enough to fit the steak with a tight fitting lid…
For some bright spicy Thai flavour, use a tablespoonful of Thai curry paste instead of the Chinese five-spice powder.
There’s nothing more satisfying than a bowl full of spaghetti and meatballs and my gold standard tomato sauce. Every cook has an all-purpose tomato sauce up his or her sleeve, a perfect last-minute pasta sauce that’s just as good served without meatballs.
Braising is my favourite cooking method. I just love the way it can transform an inexpensive, tough cut of beef into a tasty tender stew. Toss in the earthy flavours of root vegetables and aromatic red wine, and you are well on your way to a rich flavour base. But the real secret to a truly memorable beef stew is patiently browning the meat.