4-5 lbs. beef chuck and/or beef shank, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
3 tbsp. oil
1 stalk lemon grass (end parts of leaves removed), cut into 3" pieces and smashed (or 2 tsp. lemon zest)
6 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. 5 spice powder
2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. oil
1 onion, minced
2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. curry powder
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
8 cups water
2 lbs. carrots (10 medium carrots), peeled and cut along the bias
8 oz. dried rice noodles
1. In a bowl, combine the cubed beef with the marinade ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and let marinate 1-2 hours.
2. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot (an enameled cast iron pot or a Dutch oven work great).
3. Remove the lemon grass pieces from the beef marinade and set aside.
4. Brown the marinated beef in 3-4 batches (place the beef cubes in a single layer in the pan and don't overcrowd or else they will steam and not brown). Remove and set aside.
5. Add another 1 tbsp. oil to the same pot and add the chopped onions, cooking over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes and 2 tsp. salt. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes over low heat until the tomatoes have reduced.
7. Add the reserved beef, bay leaves, curry powder, and star anise. Cook 2-3 minutes, uncovered, to let the flavors blend with the meat.
8. Add the reserved lemon grass pieces and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that develops on the surface. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 1 1/2 hours.
9. Add the diced carrots and cook another 3o minutes or until the carrots and beef are tender.
1. Heat a medium pot of water to a boil.
2. Remove the pot from the heat.
3. Add the dried rice noodles (do not stir or else you'll break the noodles). Let sit 8-10 minutes until the noodles are al dente, i.e., tender-but not mushy.
4. Drain noodles in a colander.
1. Place cooked noodles into individual serving bowls (how much depends on your or your guests' appetite).
2. Ladle hot beef stew over the noodles.
3. Garnish each bowl with bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, scallions and lime wedges (or you place all the garnishes on a platter and let your guests add their own).