Once we discovered the wonder of the thermos we learned lunch options were endless. This was another one of M's favorites to take for lunch, however, she did have to beware of the aromatics.
The star anise may be a little hard to source. If you can buy it in bulk somewhere, it's very affordable and worth it. The dried shitake mushrooms also look really expensive you buy them bagged. They are also a lot cheaper if you can find them in bulk (possibly at Whole Foods if your Whole Foods is big enough). If you can't find them, just substitute cremini mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms give a nice meaty flavor to the stew. If you aren't a fan of a slight wine taste to your beef stews, just leave out the sake (or sherry). Just add a little of water to the pan to deglaze it.
This will serve 4 - 6 in these proportions.
Asian Beef Stew
adapted from monkeymom on Food52.com
3 lbs stew meat, cut into 1- 2 inch cubes
salt and pepper
1 - 2 T canola oil
3/4 c sake, sweet rice wine, or sherry (red)
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
3/4 t rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 c chicken stock
2 star anise
1" piece of ginger root, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, left whole
3 - 4 red chili peppers, fresh or dried (to taste)
3 whole dried shitake mushrooms, stems removed (can use fresh, just remove stems and quarter)
zest of 1 lime
3 - 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 lg daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1" pieces (optional)
Heat oil in a large dutch oven. Sprinkle beef cubes with salt and pepper. Brown beef in batches and set aside. Return meat and accumulated juices to pot. Add the sake (etc) or water to pot to deglaze. Bring to a boil and scrape up browned bits. Add the soy sauce and sugar. Add the rice wine vinegar, stock, star anise, ginger, garlic, chiles (if using), and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add the lime zest. If meat is not covered with liquid, add enough water so meat is covered. Once the stew comes to boil, cover tightly (either with a lid or foil), and transfer to preheated 325 degrees oven. Cook for 1 hour. Stir and cook for a second hour or until meat is tender.
Return the stew to the stove. Remove the lid and simmer on medium heat to cook reduce the liquid, about 30 minutes. While the stew cooks down, in a separate saucepan, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place vegetables in boiling water and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. You want the carrots to stay bright orange and not to fall apart easily when stirred. Add the boiled vegetables to the stew.
Serve hot with either brown rice or noodles. Garnish with chopped green onion or a bit of lime juice.