Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fool-proof stew recipe : beef-shank and yellow split peas stew

            Beef shank is possibly one of my favorite cuts of meat. It is a tough cut of meat, but with enough tender loving care, it becomes extremely luscious. In fact, beef shank stew with yellow split peas is one of my most cherished childhood food memories. Back in Myanmar, whenever my aunt could get her hands on fresh beef shank, she would make a big pot of beef-stew. We would roll the flat bread into a pretend cigar, and dip into the pasty, hearty pea stew, and smoke it like we were in a 007 movie (Hollywood – always teaching good habits even in third world countries). Of course, the best part of the beef shank, the part all the kids want, was actually the creamy bone-marrow within. It is fatty, buttery with intense beef flavor. When I was young, I had to fight with my siblings and cousins for this ultimate prize. I am pretty sure if Suzanne Collins visited my family, she would have inspiration to write “The Hunger Game” series years earlier. There were numerous times where we knocked out our plates and bowls and create a big mess. We would get a nice spanking as a punishment. I have grown to like bone marrow so much that if I see it on a menu, I would order it in a heartbeat. I guess, all those fighting and punishments have made bone-marrow tastier than ever.

In this post, I will be sharing the recipe of the exact beef-shank stew dish I grew up with. I have literally bled as a kid fighting with siblings to get my fair share of this dish, so I hope that you enjoy this.

What I love about this recipe is that, it is extremely to make, but look like I have whipped out some Gordon Ramsey-approved culinary techniques. Moreover, in my book, any recipe that yields thick gravy sauce without adding unethical amount of butter and flour is golden, and this recipe surely qualifies as one. The yellow peas and some bone marrow oozing out, slowly thicken the broth to golden velvety liquid that goes well with any source of carbohydrates. You cannot eat a huge pile of this beef-stew on top of a warm jasmine rice and not feel like the world suddenly becomes a secure place.

The best part of making this dish by myself? I get to eat all the bone marrow pieces as a part of chef’s treats. No fighting necessary.

Burmese beef stew and split pea

Burmese beef stew


  • 2 lbs. of beef shanks with bones
  • 2 medium red onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • 4 big cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½ cup of coke
  • ½ cup of beef broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 3 cups of yellow peas
  • 2 stalks of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper (according to taste)
  • For garnish – cilantro or red pepper flakes


  • Salt and pepper the beef shank.
  • Heat up the oil in a Dutch oven, and sear the beef shanks until they are golden brown (about 5 minutes on each side)
  • Take out the beef shanks, and let them rest on a plate.
  • Throw in onions, carrots and garlic, and sauté on the medium heat until the onions turn golden (about 10 minutes).
  • Add in all the spices, and mix thoroughly. Your room will probably smell like heaven by now.
  • Throw back in the beef shanks.
  • Put in coke, beef broth, fish sauce and water. I know coke sounds like a weird ingredient, but it really adds another layer of flavor.  Will I ever lead you astray?
  • Add in yellow split peas.
  • Bring it to a boil, and simmer for 4 hours.
  • Garnish with cilantro, and red chili pepper for those who like extra-spicy.

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