With cooking a stew, that will not be too heavy, in mind, I started looking at different ingredients I had at hand. The one that popped right away was a package of peeled chestnuts, which seemed to be a good ingredient to start with. As chestnuts pair so well with Asian flavoring, I quickly decided to go down this route.
Skipping my usual go-to mirepoix (onion, celery and carrots) veggies, I used a nice amount of garlic, and a fairly long list of Asian sauces, pastes and seasonings, including star anise, for its unique aroma.
Once the seared meat cubes, garlic and chestnuts, were covered with chicken stock and seasoning mixture, and brought to a boil, the kitchen was quickly filled with wonderful scents. The stew was then transferred to the oven, to braise slowly and let all the ingredients blend together. Once cooled, the stew was transferred to spend a night in the fridge and let the flavors develop furthermore.
The reheated stew was exactly what I was looking for: hearty, yet not too heavy, highly aromatic and flavorful.
Served with steamed fresh broccoli (or sliced scallions),and white rice on the side, the stew makes a wonderful option for a leisurely weekend lunch or dinner. Try it and enjoy.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Braising time: 2 hours
Chilling time: overnight
½ cup soy sauce (I used Tamari)
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs date syrup (or maple syrup)
½ tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 Tbs Gochujang paste
1 Tbs Hoisin sauce
2 Tbs chopped pickled ginger
1 Tbs lemongrass paste
1 Tbs dried shallots
3 scallions, chopped
1 star anise
1.8 Lbs (815 grams) beef chuck under blade, boneless
3 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs oil
5 large garlic cloves, peeled, halved (germ removed if it’s not very fresh)
3½ cups chicken stock
5.2 oz (150 grams) peeled chestnuts
1 Tbs cornstarch, mixed with 2 Tbs water
Sliced scallions, or steamed broccoli
Cooked white rice
- In a jug, mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, date syrup, Sriracha sauce, Gochujang paste, Hoisin sauce, pickled ginger, lemongrass paste, dried shallots, scallion and star anise, and set aside.
- Cut the meat into large cubes, place in a medium bowl, and toss with the flour and salt, to cover from all sides.
- Heat the oil in a wide pot, over medium-high heat. Shake off the meat cubes from excess flour, and add to the pot, in one layer. Sauté until they brown on all sides, adding the garlic in the last couple of minutes, following with the chestnuts.
- Mix gently and add the stock and the flavoring mix in the jug. Mix well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes, titling the pot occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 200F (93C). Place the covered pot in the oven, and braise for 2 hours. Bring to room temperature, and place in the fridge overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the fat layer. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat, chestnuts and star anise to a medium pan. Keep aside, in a warm place.
- Pour the sauce from the pot into a large jug, and clean the pot.
- Process the sauce with a hand blender until smooth. Place a strainer over the clean pot and strain the sauce into it. Bring to a boil, over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the cornstarch slurry, and mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. Pour half of it over the meat and chestnuts, and cook over medium heat, until the meat warms through.
- Serve with steamed broccoli (or sliced scallions), cooked white rice, and the rest of the sauce on the side.