Good stews are made or lost in the early stages of their preparation. In many stews the meat is fried first (sometimes with onions, carrots, leeks, whole or sliced mushrooms, peppers or shallots), to give a rich flavor and to add color to the sauce, which will be made with the browned sediment and dried juices that stick to the pan after frying.
If the sauce is not to look too pale and taste insipid, you must fry the meat until each piece is a good even brown color. Fry the pieces a few at a time, so as not to crowd the pan, and keep the temperature high so that the meat browns and fries rather than sweats.
If the bottom of the pan begins to get too brown, you can deglaze it between batches of meat by pouring in a few tablespoons of stock, wine or water. Stir it vigorously to loosen the sediment, taste the liquid, and, if it is not burnt, reserve it to add to the stew. It will not taste delicious at this point but as long as it has not burnt it will enrich and color the stew.
** Asian Recipes