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Chinese Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Star Anise

4 Servings

2¼ hours 15 minutes active

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This hearty, aromatic stew is our adaptation of a recipe from “Hot Sour Salty Sweet” by cookbook authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, who explain that the dish comes from the Hui people of Yunnan province in western China. We use beef shanks in our version, as the bones contribute amazing richness and body to the broth, thereby allowing us to skip the step of browning the meat, a flavor-building technique used in many braises. Without searing, the broth boasts a clean, pure beefiness, so the spices—star anise, five-spice powder and Sichuan peppercorns—have a bold presence, yielding warm, subtly sweet and tingling peppery notes that bring depth and complexity. A generous dose of herbs adds freshness. Serve with steamed or stir-fried greens and rice or warmed flatbread.




Don't add all of the chickpeas to the pot with the beef. We add only half with the meat; with long cooking, these chickpeas soften, adding body to the braising liquid. We add the remaining chickpeas at the end so they retain their texture and contrast the tender beef.

2¼ hours

15 minutes active


  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 6

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled


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Tanya S.

The Chinese Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Star Anise is absolutely one hundred times more tasty than Pho Soup, if you could even believe that Pho Soup could be more tasty! Delicious, rich, creamy and subtly spicy. I will definitely make this again!

Jennifer B.

Fabulous and not your traditional chinese. Absolutely delicious.

Suzanne B.

What’s the leafy green?

Lynn C.

Hi Suzanne -

We aren't exactly sure what they used for the photo shoot (it looks like gai lan maybe?) but this dish can be served with any steamed or sautéed greens.

The Milk Street Team

Bunnie C.

2 questions as i am making this. How spicy is this dish using 2 tsps of Sichuan peppercorns?should i use less? And for star anise—do you use 4 complete stars or just individual pods from 1 star? 4 whole stars seems extreme.

Lynn C.

Hi Bunnie -

Sichuan peppercorns boast beautiful citrus notes, but the magic of these lies as much in their function as in their flavor; instead of attacking the tongue with spiciness, Sichuan peppercorns induce a tingling sensation similar to drinking a super carbonated seltzer or eating a whole pack of pop rocks. So, use less if you want to cut down on that mouth-numbing feel. As for the star anise, yes, 4 complete "stars," are called for in the recipe.

The Milk Street Team

John M.

The two comments above are correct. This recipe made a unique & fabulously delicious beef stew! The only change I made was using beef short ribs and flanken beef, as beef shanks are impossible to find in my small town. Also fished out the smashed garlic along with the star anise pods afterward. I was a little concerned by the amount of star anise used, but I shouldn't have been. The flavor of it was subtle and just right, perfectly complementing the other spices. I'll definitely be adding this recipe to the frequently cooked rotation. Thanks again, Ms. Hill & Milk Street team!