The Slanted Door’s Lemongrass Short Rib Stew—At Your Door via Munchery!
It’s time to bring home a delightfully rich cultural melting pot, courtesy of our friends at The Slanted Door. Executive chef and owner Charles Phan breathes Vietnamese sensibilities into this French-inspired dish by braising short ribs in a sauce of Thai chili, lemongrass, ginger, star anise, and tomatoes until they reach fall-apart tenderness. Steamed daikon, celery, and carrots join this rich stew, and a healthy portion of steamed jasmine rice comes ready to soak up the scrumptious sauce.
A Delicious History of the Dish
Although it featured on menus before the 1880s, beef became a popular (and important) ingredient in Vietnam under French colonial rule. The arrival of French cuisine increased beef production, making this once-expensive ingredient affordable to the masses. Street vendors began to use beef instead of other meats, giving rise to new versions of traditional dishes (like beef pho). At the same time, Vietnamese chefs were exposed to conventional French recipes, which they began to blend with their own cuisine.
Despite being regularly associated with fine dining, many recipes in the French canon like beef bourguignon began as peasant food, defaulting to techniques like braising in wine to tenderize otherwise too-tough cuts of meat. These commonplace techniques were quickly adopted by people across Vietnam, giving rise to dishes like The Slanted Door’s lemongrass short rib stew that marry French cuisine with local Vietnamese flavors and ingredients.
Chef Phan’s Inspiration
Even in the last few decades, dishes like this one have continued to grow in popularity in Vietnam, “Once an overlooked cut of meat, short ribs are now on menus across [Vietnam] (and sadly are no longer as cheap as they once were).” The cause of this continued spike in popularity? The beef—“The meat is generously marbled with fat, which breaks down during the braising process, yielding a velvety sauce and extremely tender texture.” Although it resembles its French brethren, Charles Phan sees something special about his version, which is brothier and more soup-like than Western versions, and often served over rice noodles.
Your Go-to Pro Tip
“It’s really the sauce that matters. It should be rich and thick…[to thicken] the sauce you can remove the meat and vegetables at the end and boil the sauce over high heat until it has reduced and thickened to your desired consistency, then serve it with bowls of steamed rice or with a chunk of baguette.”