All it takes is “one pot” and that says it all about this wonderful Asian influenced beef stew!  The perfect blend of asian spices, soy sauce, chilli and then the beautiful marriage of adding sweet potato to tone down all those flavours.  Having sour cream with spicy food is not a new invention, we all add a dollop of sour cream when we have tacos, so adding buttermilk (Kulturmelk) at the end actually makes perfect sense.

You can purchase five-spice at most Asian stores but if you can’t find it, I have added a quick guide of how to make your own in my “Tip” section below.  The same goes for buttermilk, if you don’t want to buy a whole litre just to use 3 tablespoons in this recipe, simply mix 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar with 1 cup whole milk, stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

The meat is exceptionally tender, served with the lime rice and my “Persian Salad” on the side, you and your family or guests will be going back for seconds.  This recipe can be multiplied with ease, I actually tripled the recipe to serve 18 guests.

Bon appetite!

You’ll need

  • • For the stew
  • 1kg x stewing beef, cut into chunks
  • 2 x onions, peeled and chopped into chunky pieces
  • 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp x plain flour
  • 2 tsp x five-spice powder
  • 3 x star anise
  • 2 x red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 x red peppers (paprika), deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 400g x sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3 cm chunks
  • 2 Tbsp x dark brown sugar
  • Black pepper for seasoning
  • 3 Tbsp x soy sauce
  • 600ml x beef stock
  • Olive oil for frying
  • • For the Lime rice
  • 300g of short grain rice, Arborio (risotto) rice in this instance
  • 500ml of water, cold
  • 3 x kaffir lime leaves or bay leaves as a substitute
  • 1 x lime, zest and juice
  • • For the garnish
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp x coriander seeds
  • 3 Tbsp x buttermilk


  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a deep casserole pan that comes with a lid, over a high heat. Fry the pieces of beef until browned all over, then remove and set aside. (Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan)
  3. Add a further 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add the peppers in batches until they begin to char. Set aside with the beef.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add a touch more oil if needed and add the onion to the pan.
  5. Soften the onion for approximately 5 minutes, adding the garlic on the last minute.
  6. Stir through the flour, then add in the five spice, star anise and chopped chilli.
  7. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, season with black pepper and heat through for another minute.
  8. Add the beef and peppers back into the pot and then add the soy sauce and beef stock and bring to the boil.
  9. Reduce the heat, put the lid on and place in your oven for approximately 3 hours or until the beef is perfectly tender.
  10. Remove the lid and add the sweet potatoes. Simmer for a further 45 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
  11. Whilst the stew is bubbling away, start making your rice.
  12. Place the rice in a medium pan and pour over 500ml of cold water.
  13. Add the lime leaves, bring to the boil and simmer for 6–8 minutes until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. (I use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom to prevent the rice from sticking)
  14. Remove the rice from the heat, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a further 5–6 minutes.
  15. Remove the lid and add the fresh lime zest and juice, stirring to combine.
  16. Just before serving, heat a dry pan over a high heat, add the coriander seeds and toast until fragrant.
  17. Remove the stew from the oven and sprinkle over the toasted coriander seeds, fresh coriander and buttermilk.
  18. Serve with the lime rice.

To make your own five-spice blend the following spices in a grinder. 6 x star anise pods, 1 ½ x tsp whole cloves or 1¼ tsp ground, 1 x cinnamon stick 8cm long or 2 x Tbsp ground, 2 Tbsp fennel seeds and 2 tsp x Szechuan peppercorns or substitute with 3 x tsp regular black peppercorns. This recipe makes about ¼ cup and should be stored in an airtight container.

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