Vietnamese Short Rib Stew

stew 1There are many variations of Vietnamese beef stew, but what they all have in common are intensely aromatic herbs and spices. Star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass, cilantro, mint, basil…these ingredients turn beef stew into a vibrant meal, rather than a bland, beige bowl of meat.

Those herbs and spices don’t just smell good, though. There’s a reason herbs and spices have a spot at the top of the Primal Blueprint food pyramid.

Herbs and spices are full of antioxidants, health benefits and medicinal qualities.

Throw in some gelatin-rich short ribs, and this stew is about as nourishing as a meal can get.

Adding even more flavor and aroma, the ingredient list continues with ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and in this Primal version, coconut aminos. When this stew is simmering on your stove, even your neighbors across the street are going to smell it cooking. And they’re going to be jealous.

Servings: 4 to 6

Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes, plus 2 to 3 hours to simmer



  • 2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs* (900 g)
  • 1 tablespoon lard or coconut oil (15 ml)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (45 ml)
  • 4 cups beef stock (or enough to just cover the short ribs) (950 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (30 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (30 ml)
  • 3 3-inch/7.6 cm pieces of lemongrass, smashed with the flat side of a knife or a meat tenderizer
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-inch/2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch/2.5 cm pieces

*This recipe can also be made with boneless beef stew meat


spare ribs

Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat lard in a wide Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs in small batches, brown them on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Decrease heat to medium and add onion. Cook until soft and brown, 8 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook for about 1 minute, stirring.

Add beef stock, coconut aminos, fish sauce, lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon and ginger.

Simmer with a lid for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is so tender that it easily falls from the bone. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, add the carrot and daikon radish to the pot.

The stew can be eaten immediately, but it also re-heats really well over the next few days.

Use coconut aminos, fish sauce, hot chiles, fresh lime, and fresh herbs like mint, Thai basil and cilantro to add more flavor to the finished stew.

stew 2

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