1stalklemongrass(lower portion only), lightly smashed to bruise
¾teaspoonChinese five-spice powder
To cook the stew
2shallotspeeled and chopped
½14-ounce cancrushed tomatoes
fish sauceto taste
To complete the dish
1carrotpeeled and cut into wedges
1largesweet potatopeeled and cut into wedges
Thai basilto garnish
In a bowl, mix the beef with all the marinating ingredients. Cover and keep overnight in the fridge.
Heat the cooking oil in a thick-bottomed pan.
Scrape the beef (reserve the marinade) and brown in the hot oil in batches. Move to a plate as each batch browns.
In the remaining oil (plus the rendered fat from the beef) over medium-low heat, saute the shallots until softened and lightly caramelized.
Add the crushed tomatoes to the shallots and cook, stirring often, until pasty.
Add the browned beef, the star anise and reserved marinade.
Pour in enough bone broth to cover the meat.
Simmer the beef for two hours (the actual cooking time depends on the quality of the meat) or until tender. Taste occasionally and add more fish sauce, if needed. If the stew dries out before the beef is done, add more broth, no more than a quarter cup each time to prevent the dish from turning soupy.
Add the carrot and sweet potato wedges. Continue cooking until the vegetables are done.
Serve the Vietnamese beef stew, garnished with Thai basil, over rice or noodles, or with crusty bread.
Like any stew, Vietnamese beef stew is even tastier after sitting overnight in the fridge and reheated.