Vietnamese Beef Ragu (or Lagu, Ragout)

Origin and Transformation of Vietnamese Beef Ragu

Vietnamese beef Ragu, also known as “beef lagu” or “beef ragout,” is a dish that originated from France and has been creatively adapted to suit Vietnamese culinary traditions. The use of locally available ingredients in Vietnam has added a unique and distinctive touch to this dish.

The term “lagu” or “ragu” is borrowed from the French language. In French, “ragout” refers to a slow-cooked dish that involves simmering meat and vegetables for an extended period with various spices to create a rich and flavorful meal.

In the French culinary tradition, ragout is a dish that requires several hours of slow cooking to develop its deep flavors. It involves simmering meat and vegetables together with a variety of herbs and spices.

When this dish was introduced to Vietnam, it underwent a transformation influenced by the flavors and ingredients of the East. However, the cooking method remained unchanged, involving the long simmering of ingredients in a large pot under medium heat to achieve the desired flavors. The fusion of French and Vietnamese culinary influences in Vietnamese beef Ragu exemplifies the cultural exchange and adaptation that occurs in the realm of food.

Vietnamese beef ragu
Vietnamese ragu can be enjoyed with cooked rice, bread, or rice noodles.

Vietnamese beef Ragu has become a popular dish in Vietnam, commonly enjoyed both at festive gatherings and as a regular meal. By incorporating local ingredients and spices, Vietnamese beef Ragu combines the richness of slow-cooked beef with the vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. It is loved for its tender meat, aromatic broth, and hearty vegetables.

Let’s explore the ingredients and preparation method of Vietnamese beef Ragu in more detail, allowing you to recreate this delightful dish in your own kitchen.

Selecting the Best Ingredients

To make Vietnamese beef Ragu, you will need several key ingredients. Here are some tips for selecting fresh and delicious ingredients to ensure the best flavors in your dish.

How to Choose Fresh and Tender Beef?

The ragu requires 1-1.5-inch beef cubes, which can be cut from beef shank or short ribs. These types of beef contain a good amount of fat and connective tissue, which enhance the richness and tenderness of the meat when slow-cooked.

To choose fresh and tender beef, check the appearance of the meat first. Look for cuts that have a vibrant red color, a smooth texture, small white veins of fat. Also, the meat shouldn’t feel sticky when touched.

Additionally, press the meat with your fingers – it should spring back without leaving an indentation. Fresh beef should also have a pleasant aroma without any unpleasant odors. These characteristics indicate that the beef is fresh and of good quality, guaranteeing a delicious and satisfying Vietnamese beef Ragu.

How to Choose Fresh and Sweet Carrots?

Fresh carrots add a pleasant sweetness and texture to the dish. When choosing carrots for your Ragu, opt for ones that are medium-sized, straight, and have a vibrant orange color with green, crisp tops. The carrots should feel firm to the touch, without any softness, bruising, or oozing.

Fresh carrots will have a pleasant aroma, reflecting their natural sweetness and crispness. Avoid carrots that appear wilted, have a dull color, or emit an unpleasant smell. By selecting fresh and flavorful carrots, you enhance the taste and texture of your beef Ragu.

Vietnamese ragu ingredients
Main ingredients: beef, carrot, potato, tomato and onion

Find The Best Potatoes

To ensure the best quality potatoes for your dish, look for ones with a smooth and unblemished skin. Choose potatoes that are larger in size, as they tend to have a higher starch content, resulting in a creamier texture when cooked.

Hold the potatoes in your hand – they should feel heavy for their size and have no signs of discoloration or sprouting. Avoid potatoes with wrinkled or soft spots, as these indicate signs of age or decay. Selecting fresh and firm potatoes will contribute to the overall deliciousness of your Vietnamese beef Ragu.

Tomatoes, Onions and Spices

Finally, for ripe tomatoes and onions, look for tomatoes that are fully red, firm yet slightly yielding to gentle pressure. Choose tomatoes that feel heavier for their size, indicating juiciness. As for onions, look for firm onions with dry, papery skin and no signs of mold or soft spots. White or sweet onions are two best-matched types for Vietnamese Ragu.

When it comes to spices, shallots, garlic, and ginger provide a flavorful foundation. Five spice powder, though optional, adds a distinctive aromatic touch to the dish. Besides, an amount of all-purpose flour or cornstarch will make the stew thicker.

For toppings, chopped green onion, ground pepper, and coriander complement the flavors and add a refreshing element.

By carefully choosing fresh and high-quality ingredients, you set the foundation for a flavorful and enjoyable Vietnamese beef Ragu. These ingredients, when combined with the aromatic spices and slow cooking process, will create a dish that satisfies both the senses and the appetite. So, take the time to select the best ingredients and try making it at home today.

Making Vietnamese Beef Ragu

Vietnamese beef ragu

Making Vietnamese beef Ragu is an easy and straightforward process. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Prep the ingredients

Step 1: Begin by seasoning the beef cubes with salt and sugar to reduce any strong odor. Rinse the meat thoroughly and cut it into bite-sized cubes. Add ginger, minced shallots, minced garlic, and five spice powder to enhance the flavor. For better results, allow the beef to marinate overnight.

Step 2: Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water to remove the skin. This step ensures that the broth remains free of tomato skin fragments. Peel and cut the carrots and potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Slice the onion by keeping the stem and cut it into 6-8 pieces then simply cut off the stem to release all fleshy leaves (image below). Mince the shallots and garlic, and cut the ginger into thin slices. Chop the green onion and coriander.

Onion and tomato prep
There are simple ways to peel tomato skin and cut onion slices.

Stew

Step 3: Heat cooking oil in a pot and sauté the tomatoes with half of the minced shallots and garlic. Then, add a cup of tomato sauce. Regardless of whether you’re using a pressure cooker or a regular pot, you can add the tomatoes and tomato sauce directly to it.

Step 4: (For Pressure Cooker) Add the marinated beef cubes and stir-fry until the meat firms up. Then, add enough water to cover the meat. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and bring it to a boil. Once the pressure valve starts releasing steam, reduce the heat.

(For regular pot) If using a regular pot, simmer the beef for about 1 hour over medium heat.

Step-by-step guide to make bò ragout

Step 5: (For pressure cooker) After releasing the pressure and opening the cooker, add the prepared carrots and potatoes and add more water if necessary. Close the lid again and bring it to a boil. Once the pressure valve starts releasing steam, reduce the heat and open the cooker.

(For regular pot) After 1 hour of simmering the meat, add the prepared carrots and potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes more. Add more water if needed.

Vietnamese ragu

Step 6: Add the sliced onions and season the stew with salt and sugar according to your taste.

Step 7: While waiting for the onions to soften, prepare a slurry by mixing all-purpose flour or corn flour with a little cold water. When the stew comes to a boil again, pour the slurry into the pot and stir quickly.

Add slurry to the Vietnamese ragu stew
Pour flour slurry to the pot

Step 8: Serve the Vietnamese beef Ragu in bowls and garnish with chopped green onion, coriander, and ground pepper. It can be enjoyed with cooked rice, bread, or rice noodles.

vietnamese beef ragu with rice
In another time, I tried Beef Ragu with Steamed Rice. Tasty!

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

If you have any leftover Vietnamese beef Ragu, you can store it in the refrigerator. Allow the stew to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to three days.

When reheating, you can use either the stovetop or microwave. Simply heat the desired portion until it reaches the desired temperature.

For longer-term storage, you can also freeze the beef Ragu. Place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bags, ensuring all the air is removed to prevent freezer burn. It can be stored in the freezer for up to one month. However, note that the texture and taste may slightly change upon thawing and reheating.

Can We Change Some Ingredients?

Yes, you can adjust the ingredients based on your preferences. While beef, potatoes, and carrots are the main components that give Vietnamese beef Ragu its characteristic flavor and texture, you also have the freedom to experiment with other ingredients.

For example, you can add green peas to introduce a burst of freshness or reduce the number of potatoes and carrots if desired. If fresh tomatoes are not available, you can simply use extra tomato sauce to replace them. The beauty of Vietnamese cuisine is that it allows you to customize according to your taste.

Vietnamese ragu

Vietnamese Beef Ragu

Yield: 4 people
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Vietnamese beef Ragu combines the richness of slow-cooked beef with the vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 400g (1.5 cups) beef
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 tomato
  • 200g ( 1 cup) tomato sauce
  • 15g (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour or corn flour
  • Spices: 1 garlic clove, 3-5 slices of ginger, 1 shallot clove, 1 tsp five spice powder (optional)
  • Salt and sugar (to taste)
  • Topping: chopped green onion, coriander, ground pepper

Instructions

Step 1. Cut the Beef

  • Season the beef cubes with salt and sugar, then rinse and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add ginger, minced shallots, minced garlic, and five spice powder to marinate them. For enhanced flavor, marinate overnight.

Step 2. Prep:

  • Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, remove the skin. Slice the onion by keeping the stem and cut into 6-8 pieces then simply cut the stem to release all fleshy leaves (image below). Vietnamese ragu ingredients prep
  • Peel and cut the carrots and potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  • Mince the shallots and garlic and cut the ginger into thin slices. Chop the green onion and coriander. Vietnamese ragu ingredients

Step 3. Stir-fry Totamoes

  • Heat cooking oil in a pot and sauté the tomatoes with half of the minced shallots and garlic (left image). Then, add a cup of tomato sauce (right image). Regardless of whether you're using a pressure cooker or a regular pot, you can add the tomatoes and tomato sauce directly to it instead of making another sauepan dirty.Vietnamese beef lagu

Step 4. Stew Beef Cubes

  • (For Pressure Cooker) Add the marinated beef cubes and stir-fry until the meat firms up (1). Then, add enough water to cover the meat (2) . Close the lid of the pressure cooker and bring it to a boil (3). Once the pressure valve starts releasing steam, reduce the heat and open it (4).
  • (For regular pot) If using a regular pot, simmer the beef for about 1 hour over medium heat.Vietnamese ragu

Step 5. Cook Vegetables

  • (For pressure cooker) After releasing the pressure and opening the cooker, add the prepared carrots and potatoes and add more water if necessary. Close the lid again and bring it to a boil. Once the pressure valve starts releasing steam, reduce the heat and open the cooker. Add more water if needed.
  • (For regular pot) After 1 hour of simmering the meat, add the prepared carrots and potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes more. Add more water if needed.Vietnamese ragu

Step 6. Add Onions and Adjust the taste

  • Add the sliced onions and season the stew with salt and sugar according to your taste.

Step 7. Add corn flour

  • While waiting for the onions to soften, prepare a slurry by mixing all-purpose flour or corn flour with a little cold water. When the stew comes to a boil again, pour the slurry into the pot and stir quickly.Vietnamese ragout

Step 8. Serving

  • Serve the Vietnamese beef Ragu in bowls and garnish with chopped green onion, coriander, and ground pepper. It can be enjoyed with cooked rice, bread, or noodles.Vietnamese beef ragu

By following these steps and using the selected ingredients, you can create a delicious and satisfying Vietnamese beef Ragu that captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine.

Notes

These are kitchen utensils I used to make this dish. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Enjoy the rich flavors, tender meat, and hearty vegetables of this beloved dish. Whether it’s a special occasion or a simple family meal, Vietnamese beef Ragu is sure to impress and satisfy everyone at the table. So, gather your ingredients, follow the recipe, and savor the authentic taste of Vietnamese beef Ragu!

1 Comment

  1. Came here from reddit. Good recipe, I’ll try one day.

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