Yes, another Thai dish. If you are also a fan of bold, flavorful Asian dishes, this delicious Spicy Thai Beef Curry over a bed of steamed jasmine rice is a good one to try. While the word “curry” might first bring about thoughts of Indian food, different types of curry can be found all over the world.
Curries contain a complex mix of spices, fresh herbs and chilies and the proportions of these ingredients vary depending on national, regional, religious or family traditions. While Indian dishes tend to use more dry spices, Thai cuisine often uses curry paste and fresh herbs instead. Thai curries are cooked for a shorter period of time and typically include vegetables, chicken, seafood accented with fresh herbs like mint, cilantro and basil. They also tend to be soupier, thanks to the addition of coconut milk or water.
Unlike Indian curries, where the spice lingers on the palate, Thai curries deliver the heat upfront because of their fresh ingredients. Thai curry paste usually is made of fresh chilies, lemon grass, galangal (ginger), garlic, shallot, kefir lime leaves, cilantro roots and shrimp paste, with spices like cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric. The red chilies that make red curry paste are moderate in heat.
Not only are curries delicious, but there are some great health benefits too! Recent research has shown that curry can actually be good for you, even protecting you from Alzheimer’s. Plus, ginger acts as an effective pain reliever from the agony of arthritis; onions contain an agent called diallyl sulfide, which prompts the body to make more of a cancer-fighting molecule; and garlic, as you know, has been found to have a wide range of health benefits, from protecting the heart by lowering cholesterol to helping to purify the blood. Time for a curry craze!
As far as more medicinal pluses, most curries contain spices with strong anti-bacterial properties. That’s why they’re found in dishes from hot countries, where meat needs to be preserved. Studies have found that garlic, cinnamon and cumin can destroy up to 80 per cent of meat-borne bacteria, while ginger can slow bacterial growth by 25 per cent.
A few principles to follow when making curry. Be generous with your spices, they not only bring flavor but texture to dishes. Decide what is going to give your curry sauce its body. This will normally be one, or a combination, of the following: tomatoes; pureed peppers or chilis; yogurt or cream; coconut milk (as in this recipe); spinach, or finely diced or pureed onion. And the holy trinity of onion, ginger, and garlic provide the deep base flavor of most curries—equivalent to onion, carrot and celery in the French tradition.
Note to the wise, not all curries are healthy. Avoid kormas, masalas and pasandras, which contain frightening amounts of cream. This recipe does use a lot of coconut milk, and you could use a “lite” version to cut back on calories, it just won’t be as thick or creamy.
Our supermarket was not carrying beef sirloin tips so we bought a sirloin steak and cut it into large chunks for the initial searing step. And when it comes to red curry paste, I tend to err on the “more-is-better” principle, which was confirmed by many reviewers who had already made the dish. In fact, one woman who said she likes things “medium-spicy” added 4 tablespoons and didn’t think it ended up too zesty at all.
- 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 lb. beef sirloin tips
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 medium-large)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste (or even more to taste)
- 1/2 cup low-salt canned chicken broth
- 1 13-1/2-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 Tbs. fish sauce
- 1-1/2 cups frozen sugar snap peas
- 1 large lime, zest finely grated and fruit cut into wedges
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear the meat in batches until nicely browned on two sides.
Add the shallots to the pan and cook until just tender and lightly browned.
After the ginger and curry paste, stir in 1/4 cup of the broth, scraping up any bits that are stuck to the pan, then add 1/3 cup of the coconut milk.
Stir until the curry paste has blended in completely.
After the meat rests, slice it thinly across the grain and return it to the pan along with the lime zest.
- Heat the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the sirloin tips with salt and pepper and sear the meat in batches until nicely browned on two sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the shallots to the pan and cook until just tender and lightly browned, 2 to 4 min. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 min. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1/4 cup of the broth, scraping up any bits that are stuck to the pan. Add 1/3 cup of the coconut milk, stirring until the curry paste has blended in completely. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and broth. Add the fish sauce.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Return the beef to the pan (along with any juices), stir, and simmer until the meat is just cooked through, 8 to 12 min.
- Take the pan off the heat. Remove the meat and transfer to a cutting board. Stir the sugar snap peas into the sauce and cover the pan. Let the meat rest for 1 min., then slice it thinly across the grain; return it to the pan along with the lime zest. If necessary, return the pan to medium heat until the peas are thawed and heated through.
- Portion the curry into four warm bowls, sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve with the lime wedges.
By Joanne Smart from Fine Cooking