Beef Stew – Vietnamese Style

Soup
This is very rich and good for a really cold night.  It is probably best made the day before so you can skim the fat off the top but planning ahead is not always in the cards.

4 1/2 lbs beef shins with bone (you could probably use short ribs or brisket too)
3 yellow medium onions – chopped
12 pearl onions (or shallots left whole)
1 lemongrass stick (cut into 2" sections and then crush each lightly after taking off the skin)
vegetable oil
3 T. miso ( the miso that has a yellow hue to it)
1/2 tsp chili powder (more if you are inclined)
1-2 inch stick cinnamon
4 whole star anise (dried)
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
2 T. sugar
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water

I used one pot.  I like the flavors accumulating. 

Take a large soup pot, cover the bottom with vegetable oil.  Add the onions and shallots.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the lemongrass and continue to saute until the onions brown.  Take everything out and put in a bowl.  Pick out the shallots/pearl onions and set aside.

Salt and pepper the beef.  Put in a little more oil on the bottom of the pot.  Brown each piece of meat.  Don't crowd.  Might take 2 times to finish all the meat. 

Put the onion mixture and meat back into the pot.  Add the beef broth and water and the remaining ingredients.  I used a small spice bag and filled it with the cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns so it seeped through in flavor vs having to pick out the pieces at the end.

Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 4-5 hours.  Until the meat can be shredded.  Take out the meat, shred and put back in.  Also, take out the bones.  Put back in the whole shallots that were reserved.  I found it was a tad greasy so I used some cheese cloth and poured the mixture through.  I took out the meat with a slotted spoon before draining the soup.  That is why making it one day ahead makes sense to get rid of all the fat that has accumulated.

Use Cantonese noodles or even linguini (already cooked) and put in the soup.  Serve warm.  I added a few chopped scallions on top and served with a spicy red pepper sauce for those who like the zing.