"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

5-spice Boeuf Bourguignon à ma façon -- Recipe

5-spice Boeuf Bourguignon à ma façon

As most of my friends know, I like to turn classical dishes and make them my own, and typically with an Asian Flare.  I probably should not call this dish 5-spice "Boeuf Bourguignon" à ma façon, because the French would probably be appalled that I took a classical French recipe and bastardized it, oh well, tant pis (too bad)!

I created this dish by adapting "Bo Kho", a classical Vietnamese beef stew, and since I live in France, with the French "Boeuf Bourguignon".  The beef in France is grass fed, and typically the beef for bourguignon takes a long time to soften, whereas in the US the commonly used "chuck" doesn't take as long to soften, so you may need to check every so often to see how well the beef has cooked. Also, I find that if you make this dish a day in advance, the flavors become very rich and distinct.  This is not a fast recipe because of the cooking time. 


  • 1-tablespoon olive oil
  • A couple of pieces of chopped bacon 
  • 1/2 cup—chopped onions
  • 1-tablespoon of garlic
  • 2-tablespoons 5-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, more if you like it spicier
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 bottle of a light red (Burgundy) wine
  • Flour for dusting the beef (for Gluten free: corn starch or rice flour, make sure you read label that it’s gluten free), add about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to flour.
  • 3-lbs of beef, e.g., chuck. Key is to cube them the same size
  • Oil for searing beef, I use coconut oil
  • 1-small onion quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-cinnamon stick or 2-3 pieces of star anise
  • 2-teaspoons cane sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 can beef stock, and one can of water
  • Green onions and/or cilantro for garnishing
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 4-medium carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 2-cups mushrooms, your choice, can even be dried mushrooms reconstituted 

In a cocotte or a dutch oven sauté pieces of bacon with the olive oil. Once it’s slightly browned, add onions and when they are translucent, add garlic, 1-tablespoon of 5-spice powder, red chili flakes, sauté until a light brown color. Then add the bottle of wine, tomato paste stir well, and let it simmer for maybe 5-minutes then set aside.

In a plastic e.g., baggies add about 1/4 cup flour with a little salt and pepper. Add the beef and shake the beef in the flour mixture.  Heat a frying pan and add enough coconut oil or whatever oil you prefer to sear the meat at medium high heat.  Shake off excess flour and sear each piece, and if possible on all sides, it does not need to be fully cooked, you’re only searing the meat.  Note: the flour will thicken the sauce!

Place all the seared pieces in the reserved cocotte wine mixture, add quartered onion. Bring to a boil and add beef stock with one can of water to cover.  Add bay leaves, cinnamon stick or star anise, the remaining 1-tablespoon 5-spice powder, and sugar,  season with salt and pepper to taste.  After it reaches a boil, lower it to a low simmer, and simmer this covered for 5-6 hours until the meat is tender. You can also put this in the oven at 250F. 

In the meantime, peel the carrots, and mushrooms.  Taste to correct seasoning with salt and pepper and add more red chili flakes if you wish it to be "spicier", and skim the fat as necessary. Add the mushrooms and carrots at the last remaining 2-hours. 

Plate it and garnish with cilantro and/or green onions and serve it with crusty bread, rice or both.

Happy Cooking and Bon appétit ! 

NOTE:  you can substitute root vegetables for the carrots and/or mix and match. Also, if you would like to give it an extra Asian flavor, substitute fish sauce or soy sauce for the salt and add a few drops of sesame oil at the end.

And, for those not familiar with my recipes and my cooking style, please personalize it to your cooking preference/style and taste!

Finally, if you do not like cooking with alcohol, then please replace it with about 3-cups of vegetable or beef stock.


  1. I want to make this for dinner tonight. It looks spectacular!!! Bon appetite!

  2. I adore dishes like this! Colorful and vibrant and so full of lovely flavors