As much as I love Indian food, I’ve never been much of a fan of Thai food. Yes, they’re different cuisines, but I always figured that if I liked one, I’d enjoy the other. I’ve wondered, though, if my dislike of Thai was due to of all the MSG-laced experiences I’ve had at Thai restaurants. More often than not, I’d end up leaving with a headache (in case you’re wondering why I’d go in the first place, they were always work lunches).
So I set out to make a Thai beef curry, to see if I could change my own mind about Thai food. I would say this experiment was a success. I really enjoyed the beef curry. Not as much as Indian style curry, but considering how much I love Indian food, perhaps that’s not a fair comparison. This Thai beef curry packs just the right amount of heat, and is very flavourful. My favourite part is the unexpected crunchy walnuts scattered throughout. After the way this dish turned out, I might just play around with Thai recipes more often!
- 4lbs beef roast, cut into large cubes
- 2 Tbsp. curry powder, plus some for seasoning meat
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 whole kaffir lime leaves
- 3 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 stalks lemon grass, usable portion crushed
- 1” galangal, sliced (if available , otherwise use ginger root)*
- 10 dried chilies, soaked, seeded, and chopped
- 3 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste*
- 1-1.5 cans coconut milk
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into wide rounds
- 4 Tbsp. coconut butter (optional)
- 1 cup walnuts (whole or halved)
- Choice of fat (ghee/coconut oil/tallow)
* I bought this and the kaffir lime leaves at South China Seas
* I use Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste from Whole Foods, pretty clean ingredients: spice (including red chili), garlic, lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger), salt, onion, coriander root, kaffir lime peel
1. Lightly season both sides of beef with salt and curry powder and set aside.
2. Heat fat in large pot over medium heat.
3. Add onions and sauté until softened (approx. 5 minutes).
4. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. curry powder, garlic cloves, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chilies, and red curry paste. Cook, stirring, until fragrant (approx. 5 minutes).
5. Add 1 can coconut milk, star anise, cinnamon stick, lemon grass, and meat. Stir to combine well.
6. The coconut milk should cover at least 3/4 of the contents of the pot. The meat will shrink as it cooks – don’t add too much liquid or your curry will be very runny. If not enough liquid, then add more coconut milk now, otherwise wait.
7. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Then check the level of liquid, adding more coconut milk if necessary. Add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Stir occasionally.
8. Cook for another 45 minutes (1.5 hours total so far), stirring occasionally.
9. If your curry is runny, and you have coconut butter, add it now to help thicken. Add the walnuts. Uncover and cook for another half hour on a gentle simmer to reduce the curry (Total cooking time = 2 hours).