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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Thai Red Beef Curry

A few months ago, I posted the recipe for Thai green chicken curry. Now it's the turn of another favourite, red beef curry! As for the green curry, I strongly encourage you to make your own curry paste as opposed to using a shop bought one, as it makes a substantial difference to the dish. Thai food is all about a delicate balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty flavours that can only be achieved by using the freshest ingredients. A food processor does make your life easier, but in its absence you can use a pestle and mortar. I promise that the end result will compensate your efforts!

INGREDIENTS (for 4 people)
  • 450 gr of good quality beef*
  • One large courgette
  • 150 gr of green beans
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies (leave the seeds out if you don't like your curry too hot - I left them in, though, as I like mine with a kick!)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 1 tsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 tbs of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of fish sauce
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh coriander
  • 300 ml of coconut milk
  • 200 ml of beef stock (I made mine with an organic stock cube)
  • One lime
  • Sunflower oil
  • 250 gr of rice (jasmine would be better but I couldn't find it here in Brussels, so I used a mix of wild and basmati)
*Note: use a cut of beef suitable for slow cooking, the same you would put into a stew. Cut the beef in small strips so that you won't need a knife when eating the curry (Thai food is traditionally eaten using a fork and a spoon only). The meat I used comes from outdoor reared, organically fed Red Devon cows, from my boyfriend's mum farm - you can't get a more trusted supplier than that!

Start by making your curry paste. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes in a small frying pan, then grind them using a pestle and mortar. Put them in a food processor, together with the turmeric, the roughly chopped shallots, garlic and ginger (don't forget to peel it first!), the red chillies, the soy sauce and fish sauce, the tomato purée and two tablespoons of sunflower oil oil. Whizz the ingredients to a smooth paste. 

 Take a heavy based, cast iron casserole pan. Heat it well on a medium hob, then add a glug of sunflower oil and  fry the strips of beef for a couple of minutes on each side. Do not skip this process, as the colour they will develop will impart lots of flavour to your curry. Place the beef morsels in a bowl and reserve for later.

Next, using the same casserole pan, gently fry the curry paste for two-three minutes on a low heat. Add the beef back to the pan and toss it in the curry paste, until well coated. Now add the coconut milk and beef stock, plus the lemongrass stalk (roughly bash it and split it in two lengthwise with a knife); gently bring the curry to the boil and transfer the pan in a pre-heated oven at 150°C. Let it cook for 2 hours, checking it twice to give it a stir. After two hours, add the courgette, sliced up in batons, and the green beans, and let it cook in the oven for another 30 minutes, while you are boiling/steaming the rice according to the packet instructions. Fish out and discard the lemongrass stalk. Serve the curry over a bed of rice, with the chopped coriander sprinkled on top and a wedge of lime for each guest to squeeze over their portion. 

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