Don’t you just love a set-and-forget recipe that cooks while you crack on with your day? This Thai beef soup is a winning example of that. Fork tender beef in a flavour-layered broth is the perfect dinner to get home to after a hard day’s slog at the grindstone. Add some tender greens, bouncy noodles and some fresh and crunchy extras, and it’s a slow-cooker recipe to have on the regular meal rotation.
6 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
6 coriander (cilantro) roots, cleaned, coarsely chopped
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g (1 lb) beef chuck steak (or gravy beef, stewing beef or brisket), cut into bite-size pieces
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1.5 litres (1.6 qt) beef stock
300g (10.5 oz) Asian beef balls (optional)
2 cups sliced Asian greens (e.g. bok choy, pak choy, Chinese young kale)
cooked noodles, to serve (e.g. rice noodles or egg noodles)
fish sauce, to season
1 cup bean shoots, to serve
Thai basil leaves, to serve
Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, coriander and peppercorns to a rough paste.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the garlic mixture and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beef and sear on all sides for 2–3 minutes, or until the meat is evenly coloured. Next, add the star anise, cinnamon stick, soy sauces and beef stock. Transfer everything to a slow cooker. Cook on the medium-low setting for 8 hours until the meat is deliciously tender.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the cinnamon stick and star anise and discard. Next, use the slotted spoon to transfer the beef pieces to a chopping board. Set aside until ready to serve.
Add the beef balls (if using) and Asian greens to the remaining broth in a slow cooker, turn the heat up to medium-high. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the beef balls have warmed through and the greens are tender. Taste the soup and add fish sauce to taste.
Divide noodles among serving bowls. Top with beef balls, Asian greens, braised beef and ladle over the beef broth. Serve with bean shoots and Thai basil leaves.