Pho is a current addiction of mine, I can’t seem to go a week without indulging in the highly fragrant vietnamese noodle soup. Those same aromatics inspired this beef shank stew.
The key ingredients here are the anise, ginger, cloves and cardamom. Don’t skip the step of charring the onion and ginger as they become nice and mellow that way. If you can’t find beef shank then any beef stew cut will do, I like the shank because of the marrow and gelatin you get from the bones. If you don’t serve the shank on the bone, scoop out the marrow and spread it on a bit of bread, it’s delicious. Just trust me on this one.
Crockpot Vietnamese Beef Stew(serves 4)
Pat the shanks dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Gently coat the shanks in flour.
Heat a large skillet to medium and add the oil. Brown shanks on both sides and remove to a plate. If you have some nice sucs on the bottom of the pan, feel free to deglaze with your beef stock and reserve it.
Remove the paper skin from the onion and cut in half. You want to char the onion and the ginger, you can do this either over an open flame on a gas stove, a grill, or under the broiler. You want to see some black char on both side of the onion as well as the ginger.
Once charred, cut the onion halves into large chunks, and the ginger into thick slices. Scatter on the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the cardamom, fish sauce, sugar, cloves, star anise, salt and beef stock. Lay the beef shanks on top and cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
Remove the shanks from the crockpot and strain the rest to give you a broth. If necessary, put the broth in a sauce pan and simmer to reduce until as thick as desired. Serve with rice or crusty French bread and the fresh herbs.