Asian Beef with Basil
Despite the fact that print is on the decline, I still love magazines, especially food magazines. I love the beautiful imagery, the feel of the pages and lounging on the couch with a glass of wine to peruse and earmark all of the recipes I'd like to make, but probably will never get around to trying. I've decided to try at least 2 different recipes a month from magazines instead of just daydreaming about making them. It seems like a good resolution and I'll blog about the successes and even the failures right here on misterbelly.com.
One dish that I'm glad I tried was a recipe for Asian Beef with Basil from Food & Wine. It's like a mashup of a traditional beef stew with distinctly Asian flavors. It's one of the best dishes I've tried from a magazine and has quickly become a staple in our home, especially as the weather gets cooler.
Being called Asian Beef with Basil one would expect that the basil used would be Thai or something similar, but it instead calls for Italian basil. I don't think Italian basil has any place in Asian cooking, even as a substitute so I opted to use Thai basil in this recipe and I think it's more successful because of it. Italian basil does not have the same flavor as Thai basil and can quickly overpower the delicate balance of flavors in Asian food if you use it as as substitute.
If you can't find Thai basil where you live, I'd highly recommend growing it in a garden or window box during the warmer months. It's a sturdy plant and will produce a ton of basil. You can also freeze the leaves for later use.
As a whole, the rich flavors of the beef are complimented by the sweetness of the carrots, which sounds like a strange ingredient for this recipe, but is an absolute must. The rice noodles in the dish make it feel like a stroganoff in a way. I love rice noodles and wouldn't suggest subbing these out for another noodle or rice, it just won't be the same.
The final touch, which is a must for me, is Sriracha. There is nothing like the spicy goodness of Sriracha to brighten up any dish. I'm obsessed with it and put it on everything, whether it makes sense to or not. On this dish, it's absolutely harmonious, adding a bit of a kick and helps to break up the rich flavor a bit.
The best part about the recipe is that it's 100% gluten-free. It takes a little while to prepare, but it's well worth it. Give a try and tell me what you think!
Asian Beef with Basil via Food & Wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lemongrass stalks, lower third only, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
3 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
4 carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 star anise pods
1 whole lemongrass stalk, cut into 3-inch lengths and lightly smashed
Cooked medium-thick rice noodles, for serving
1/2 cup torn Thai basil leaves
1 long fresh red chile, thinly sliced
In a mini food processor, mince the garlic with the lemongrass. Add the soy sauce, oil, salt, sugar and five-spice powder and pulse to combine. In a large bowl, toss the beef with the marinade to coat thoroughly. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add half of the meat; cook until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining meat.
Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the onion, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of water, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until glossy, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.
Return the meat to the casserole. Add the carrots, star anise and lemongrass. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 hour and 45 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 4 cups, 3 minutes. Discard the star anise and lemongrass. Return the beef to the casserole. Season the stew with salt and serve over noodles. Garnish with the basil and red chile.