a French Vietnamese-style beef stew

la soupe à boeuf by no9blue
la soupe à boeuf, a photo by no9blue on Flickr.

This soup is somewhat an in-between version between Vietnamese and French cuisine. Recently, I have made a ‘real’ French version followed recipe of La Tartine Gourmande. That was good, with the aroma of thyme. However, I would switch between the two versions since it takes less time to make the beef softer in the Vietnamese way. Also, it is a good alternative if you want to reduce the fat from butter, which occurs a lot in French cuisine.

In Vietnam, all the vegetables in this dish are called winter vegetables. Probably, they all came from the time when the French came to the country.

Potato in Vietnamese is ‘khoai tay’, literally means ‘western yam’, onion is ‘hanh tay’, meaning ‘western shallot’. Thus, I think this dish is suitable when the weather turns cold. (And Vietnam is indeed cold, in the north when it comes to winter).

So let’s prepare it for a Friday dinner or for a weekend one. (I can manage to cook this after coming back from the office at 6pm on Friday, it doesn’t take much time, including time to go for grocery).

English:

 Ingredients:

- 1/2 kilo boneless stew beef (cut into cubes, about 2cm each side)

- 1 onion

- Potato (300-400g) (I buy the peeled and half-boiled pack in the supermarket to save time)

- Carrot (250g) (peeled one in a package)

- Oil (olive or sunflower) (max. 2 tbsp)

- Corn starch (1 tsp)

- Coriander/ cilantro sprigs

- Oyster sauce ( 2 tbsp)

- Sugar (1/2 tsp, if you don’t have oyster sauce)

- Garlic powder (1 tsp)

- Salt, pepper

How to cook:

1. Making the beef tender:

- If you have oyster sauce: add in oyster sauce, garlic powder, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of sugar into the bowl of beef cubes. Mix well so the beef will absorb oyster sauce and other ingredients. Let it there for 20-30 min. The more you leave it, the more the beef will become tender. Using oyster sauce is a trick to make beef soft in the south of Vietnam.

- If you don’t have oyster sauce, this is how my mother does: add in 1 1/2 tbsp of oil, garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp of salt, 1/2 tbsp of sugar. (More sugar is used if you don’t have oyster sauce). Mix well and let it there for the same amount of time.

2. Peel  the onion. Cut it into 8 parts (just cut half of the onion, then half of one half and half of that 1/4). Separate different layers. So you have each piece with 2-3cm on each side. The trick to not to tear when cutting an onion is to run water on the half and half onion after you cut it. Or chewing a chewing gum when you are cutting onions.

You will need to peel and cut potato and carrot into cubes if you buy the fresh ones.

3. Heat on the pan. Put oil in so that the oil is enough to cover the whole pan but no need to put a lot. When the oil is hot, pour in the beef in step 1. Put the heat at medium or large and stir quickly the beef so that the beef is no longer red. Pour in 500-700ml boiling water. Season it with salt (1/2-1 tbsp). Cook for 40 minutes under medium heat.

4. After  about 40 minutes, when the beef is on its way to tenderness, add in carrot. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Then add in potato. Cook for 3 minutes. And add in onion pieces. You can turn on the heat a bit when putting these in. Add corn starch in. Stir well in the soup pan. Add in 1 tsp of sugar (more or less depends on your taste).

5. When onion become almost transparent, lower the heat to almost minimum. Season with pepper. Turn off the heat and transfer the soup into a bowl. Decorate with a coriander sprig.

Served with baguette (the French stick) for 2-3 people.

Note: if you don’t buy half-boiled potato from the supper market, you have to cook it longer before adding onion in. Potato, carrot and onion should be done but still keep their shape.

Oyster sauce can be found in every supper market in China town. I use it to marinate beef normally to make the beef tender.

Vietnamese:

Nguyên liệu:

- 1/2 kg thịt bò (loại để nấu súp, không cần thịt bò filet)

- 1 củ hành tây

- 300-400g khoai tây (4-5 củ)

- 250g cà rốt (2 củ)

- Dầu ăn

- Bột bắp

- Bột tỏi  hoặc tỏi bằm(1 thìa cà phê)

- Dầu hào

- Bột canh, bột nêm, tiêu

- Ngò/ mùi

Cách nấu:

 1. Ướp thịt:

- Nếu có dầu hào thì bạn chỉ cần cho 1-1 1/2 thìa dầu hào vào thịt bò đã cắt thành khúc vuông. Cho thêm 1 thìa bột nêm, 1 thìa bột canh (hoặc muối), bột tỏi. Trôn đều cho thịt thấm và để khoảng 40 phút.

- Nếu không có dầu hào: bạn có thể thay thế bằng 1.5-2 thìa dầu ăn. 1/2 thìa đường. Cho thêm bột canh, bột tỏi. Trộn đều và ướp khoảng 40 phút.

2. Chuẩn bị hành tây, cà rốt, khoai tây đã cắt thành miếng vừa ăn trong lúc chờ cho thịt ướp mềm.

3. Bật bếp để lửa to. Cho dầu vào láng qua mặt nồi để dầu phủ hết mặt nồi là được. Dầu nóng cho thịt vào đảo nhanh đến khi thịt mất màu đỏ. Cho vào 500-700ml nước sôi. Cho 2 thìa bột canh vào và đun lửa bé-vừa khoảng 40 phút.

4. Sau 40 phút cho cà rốt vào. Nấu khoảng 5 phút thì cho khoai tây. Cho bột bắp vào khuấy tan. Sau đó canh lúc khoai và cà rốt còn khoảng 5-6 phút nữa là chín thì cho hành tây vào. Việc cho các thứ vào trước hay sau tuỳ thuộc vào độ cứng của nguyên liệu. Ở Hà Lan thì mình hay mua cà rốt, khoai tây cắt sẵn để đỡ mất thời gian nên không phải đun lâu.

Đến khi hành tây gần chín thì vặn bếp đến mức nhỏ nhất. Thêm vào tiêu rồi tắt bếp.

5. Múc ra bát và cho mùi vào cho thơm và cũng để trang trí.

Món này ăn cùng với bánh mỳ. (Ở Việt Nam thì bánh mỳ thường hiểu ngầm là bánh mỳ của Pháp mà ở nước ngoài hay gọi là baguette để phân biệt với các loại bánh mỳ khác nhau).

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2 thoughts on “a French Vietnamese-style beef stew

  1. Yes, this is not a typical Vietnamese beef stew. ‘Bo kho’ would be a typical dish. I think it’s more French because there’s nothing in the ingredients which are typical Vietnam. Yet, marinating and cooking the beef is a Vietnamese style. :-)

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