Ragu is a delicious Vietnamese stew packed with carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes simmered in a rich and savory tomato broth. Dip crispy baguette into the broth for a warming and cozy meal!
📘 What is Ragu?
Ragu is a Vietnamese stew influenced by French cuisine. It consists of vegetables and/or meat cooked in a rich tomato broth.
There a many different types of ragu, some include beef, chicken, or even shrimps. Here, we are making the vegetarian version called "lagu chay" in Vietnamese.
🥣 How to Make Vietnamese Ragu
This ragu recipe requires just 1-pot and 10 ingredients. And almost no active cooking time!
First, sauté shallots and garlic until fragrant, for about 2 minutes. Next, add the diced tomato and cook until the tomato has softened. I recommend using a ripe tomato for the best results.
Next, to add more flavor, stir in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. It will not only add umami but will also give the broth a deeper red color.
Once done, it's time to add the rest of the ingredients:
- Mushrooms - Straw mushrooms are often used to make ragu in Viet Nam, however it's quite hard to find fresh ones here. I recommend using cremini or oyster mushrooms, which are good substitute.
- Carrots - For a natural sweetness.
- Potatoes - Use potatoes that hold together well like Yukon Gold or red potatoes.
- Salt and sugar - For a balance of sweet and salty!
- Optional spices - Cinnamon, coriander, and anise. Spices are not always used to make ragu, but I do find it adds more flavor.
- Water - Ragu is sometimes prepared with coconut water instead of plain water. It brings sweetness and a very subtle nuttiness to the broth. If using coconut water, omit the sugar.
Simmer everything in a deep pot for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender. You can use a large saucepan or a Dutch oven, it does not really matter.
Finally, to finish the ragu, garnish with a handful of fresh cilantro and thinly sliced onion!
And if you want to add just a touch of brightness, finish the ragu with a squeeze of lime!
- Do I need annatto seeds for this recipe? No, it's totally optional! Frying annatto seeds in the oil just adds a deeper orange color to the broth, it doesn't have any impact on flavor.
- Is this recipe authentic? I tried to make it as authentic as possible, and as close to the ragu I tried in Viet Nam. Be aware there are as many versions as cooks, so there is not one authentic recipe.
- Can I add more vegetables to this stew? A big yes! You can use the vegetables you have on hand. Personally, I sometimes add red bell pepper, zucchini, green peas, or tofu to add extra protein!
- What to serve with ragu? You can serve ragu with a bowl of white rice on the side, or a fresh baguette and dip it into the delicious broth!
- How long does this ragu keep? It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat over medium-heat. I think ragu tastes even better the next day!
This plant-based ragu is perfect for any nights of the week, especially those chilly evenings! It's super easy to prepare, savory, packed with vegetables, and so warming!
Let me know in the comments and leave a rating if you try this recipe!
Vegan Vietnamese Ragu
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon annatto seeds optional, just for color
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 medium tomato finely diced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups quartered mushrooms
- 4 cups water
- 2 medium carrots peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices
- 3 small potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, coriander, anise optional, it adds more flavor
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ onion finely sliced
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or Dutch oven. Once hot, add the annatto seeds (if using) and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the oil has turned orange. Use a spoon to remove the seeds from the oil and discard.
- Next, add the minced shallots garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the diced tomato and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the tomato paste and mushrooms and sauté for 3 more minutes.
- Cover with the water. Add the carrots and potatoes, and season with salt, sugar, and spices if using. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are tender.
- Taste and adjust saltiness if needed. Stir in the chopped cilantro and sliced onions and serve hot! This stew is delicious served with steamed rice on the side. You can also serve as a soup and dip bread into the broth!
- This stew will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.