A bowl of beef stew, rice and tea.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Stew

Saskatoon's Odd Couple restaurant brings a taste of Asia to the prairies – and this beef stew is no exception.

Saskatoon’s The Star Phoenix refers to Odd Couple restaurant as “one of the most-loved restaurants in Saskatoon.” In their social media, Odd Couple describes itself as “Asian flavours, Saskatchewan and Canadian ingredients.” The menu draws on Cantonese, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines and creates Canadian-Asian cuisine in innovative and unexpected ways. For example, you’ll find dishes like Bacon Fried Rice and Tomato Pad Thai on the menu.

This Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Stew was created by Chef Ivan Ly during the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of giving diners (and wistful would-be travellers) a taste of his home country of Vietnam. The dish is a re-creation of the beef stew he remembers eating when he was growing up in Ho Chi Minh City, and it was such a hit that it soon made its way to a permanent spot on the full-time menu. Slow-cooked beef and carrots are comforting and familiar prairie fare, but diced lemongrass and Vietnamese beef seasoning bring a hint of Ho Chi Minh.

A bowl of beef stew, rice and tea.

Odd Couple's Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Stew

Saskatoon's Odd Couple makes a hearty Asian-inspired beef stew.
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 2



  • ¼ cup Oriental Beef Spices Seasoning see note 1
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass finely diced – see note 2


  • 2 lbs beef shank cut into 1½ -inch cubes
  • tbsp canola oil
  • 10 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 4 each ¼-inch thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 1 stalk of cinnamon
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large carrots sliced into 1½-inch rounds
  • 1 tbsp Oriental Beef Spices Seasoning see note 1
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Chopped Thai basil and sliced raw white onions for garnish (optional)
  • Jasmine rice, rice noodles or a baguette for serving (use rice or rice noodles for gluten-free version)


  • Place the beef cubes in a medium bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Stir to combine, ensuring all of the cubes are evenly covered. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  • Once the beef is done marinating, remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Place the oil in a large wok or medium-sized pot over high heat. Add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and shallot, and lightly brown, 1–2 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute and then add the beef, lemongrass, cinnamon stalk, and star anise. Cook, stirring regularly, until the meat is browned on all sides, 2–3 minutes in total.
  • Stir in the water and bring to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and let the stew cook for 40 minutes. Stir it occasionally to ensure all sides of the beef are submerged in the water mixture at some point so that they cook evenly. After 40 minutes, the beef should be about 50–60 percent tender, but not fully cooked.
  • Add the carrots and cook the stew, still on medium-low heat and covered, until the beef and carrots are tender and cooked through, 40 minutes. By this point the meat should have passed the recommended internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). While it’s cooking, stir every 5 to 10 minutes to ensure the stew does not stick to the bottom of the pot. If needed, you can turn the heat to low so that it does not stick.
  • Add the seasoning, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Prior to serving, remove the cinnamon stalk and star anise from the stew.
  • Serve the stew in individual bowls. Garnish with chopped Thai basil and sliced raw white onions (if using), along with your choice of jasmine rice, rice noodles, or a baguette.


  1. Oriental Beef Spices Seasoning is a dry spice mix. Its Vietnamese name is Gia V. Nâ’u Bò Kho. Look for it in the international section of the grocery store or in an Asian grocery store. It is typically in the Vietnamese/Thai spice section and may also be labelled Oriental Beef Spices or Oriental Beef Stew Spices.
  2. To prepare a lemongrass stalk, cut off the root end and then peel off the tough outside layers to reveal the tender inside part. Cut off and discard the top green part of the stalk. Slice the white part of the stalk (similarly to cutting a green onion), and then dice it finely.

A blue and yellow cookbook in a light frame.

Excerpted from Only in Saskatchewan by Naomi Hansen. Recipe copyright © 2022 by The Gallery Café. Text copyright © 2022 by Naomi Hansen. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions.

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