Vivacious Vietnamese stew


This is a recipe based on one that Stella made on holiday in Vietnam so it is a joint effort after I put in a few extra bits. On first glance this looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of hassle but to be honest it’s easier than you would think.  Of course you could buy ready made stock or use stock cubes and use whatever spices you have. However this is a nutritious, light and comforting meal made with love that can be left to bubble away and the extra little tricks turns it from a nice dish to a superb one and probably works out cheaper.  The stock can be portioned separately and frozen if you wish and then the noodles, herbs and meat can be cooked as and when required.  Go on, give it a go, you’ll thank us in the end.

Serves 6

Slimmingworld Syn Free


For the stock (if not using ready made stock or stock cubes and are doing it the correct more traditional way)

Beef bones with marrow-bone inside (this only cost 50 pence)

2 litres cold water

3 white onions

Very large chunk of ginger 4 large thumbs bashed roasted

Bulb garlic

2 sticks of celery

My choice of spices but use what you have got or to suit your own palette 

6 cloves

1 Heaped tablespoon of coriander seeds

2 Birdseye chilli whole

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch of fennel

3 Kefir lime leaves

4 litres cold water


1 lemon grass stalk

2 star anise

To serve

Juice of 1 lime

6 tablespoons of fish sauce

Cooked rice noodles, we used a nest between two of us

1 large piece of fillet steak or cut of steak of choice

half a bunch or more each of fresh basil, mint and coriander

360 g packet approx of fresh beansprouts


  1.  Cook the bones in 2 litres of cold water for 15 mins then strain.

2.  Return the bones to the pan and pour in 4 litres of cold water, bring to the boil and leave to bubble away whilst you move to the next step.

3.  Leaving the skins on char grill the chunks of ginger, bulb of garlic, celery and onions direct over a gas flame, or griddle pan over medium heat.

4. Remove any scum from the bubbling stock and add the whole charred vegetables.

5. Add the chilies and whole spices excluding the lemongrass and star anise to the broth and allow to continue to reduce down.

6. You can just leave it to do its thing now for a couple of hours removing any scum from the top of the broth from time to time.

7. After about an hour, add the lemongrass and star anise and then continue to reduce.

8. Strain the liquid into another pan, discard the bones and set vegetables aside (you can probably reuse some of these in other stocks or soups at a later stage).

9. Add the fish sauce a tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Keep boiling on the hob until you are ready to add to your dishes.
To serve

1. Scatter your serving dishes with a small handful each of fresh basil, coriander and mint together with finely sliced spring onions, chilies, mangetout and any other veg you are using.Fresh mint, coriander, basil.

2. Put a handful of the cooked rice noodles into each bowl.

3. Finely slice the steak on an angle and divide the pieces between your bowls.

4. When ready to serve take your boiling stock and ladle into each bowl, covering the raw steak. This will cook the meat within a couple of minutes if sliced thinly enough , keeping it beautifully tender and juicy. If you are using a different cut of steak you may need to lightly cook it off first.

5. Top each dish with a good squeeze of lime juice, then stick on a bib and get stuck in.


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