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Vietnamese Braised Beef with Lemongrass, Star anise and a Peanut Dust

This is one of the best slow cooker recipes I have – based on a recipe from the Good Food section in the SMH paper by Karen Martini, yet I make it a little simpler as the flavours are all still so strong and delicious.
What caught my eye was the peanut dust - such a nice simple touch, so easy to do, yet adds some great style to the dish.

Pictured: Vietnamese Braised Beef with Lemongrass, Star anise and a Peanut Dust

I like to follow this dish with my ginger puddings for a special dinner party.

1.6kg beef chuck, in 2cm-3cm dice
A generous pinch of saffron
Vegetable or light olive oil
3 sticks lemongrass, white part only
4 long red chillies
8cm piece ginger
5 purple eschalots
6 garlic cloves
3 star anise
1 tsp five-spice powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 large daikon (Japanese radish), peeled and cut in 4cm rounds, or a bunch of radish trimmed and kept whole.
To serve – jasmine rice, coriander leaves, lime wedges and peanut dust (see recipe below)

Peanut dust
6 tbsp unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
4 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan (watch carefully, they burn quickly)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt flakes
2 tbsp crispy fried shallots (from Asian grocers and sometimes in supermarkets)

Make the peanut dust - in a mortar and pestle or small food processor, grind the peanuts, sesame seeds, sugar and salt together, then stir through the crispy shallots.
Season the beef with sea salt flakes and toss with the saffron and a little oil.
Roughly chop the lemongrass, chillies, ginger, eschalots and garlic, add to a food processor and process to a paste.
In a large pot, fry the paste in a little oil about 3 minutes or till fragrant, add the beef and stir to seal the meat. 
Add the star anise, five spice, cinnamon, tomatoes, fish sauce, sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir. Add two litres of water to just cover the beef.
Simmer gently for at least three hours or until the beef is tender. Alternatively place all ingredients in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
Add the daikon and cook for a further 30 minutes, until the daikon is tender and the sauce reduced.
Serve with rice, coriander and lime. 
Sprinkle with the peanut dust.
Serves 6