Southeast Asian curries combine Indian influences with regional ingredients such as lemon grass and star anise. For this one, Milk Street took inspiration from a recipe in “Best of Malaysian Cooking” by Betty Saw. Instead of calling for a long list of spices, this uses Indian curry powder as an easy flavor base; and sambal oelek, an Indonesian-style chili paste which adds bright heat to the meal.
The dish was delish, BUT, it took way longer than indicated. First, since we couldn’t locate boneless short ribs, we bought a chuck roast that was sliced in half lengthwise and popped into the freezer for 30 minutes. This allowed us to easily cut the beef into thin, 1⁄8-inch slices. And there was quite a bit of prep—at least 20 minutes worth—so there was no way this meal was going to be done in a half hour!
Then, the potato halves, which were supposed to be tender after 30 minutes, were still too firm after 45. I fished them out of the curry, and microwaved for several minutes before reuniting them with the other ingredients. For a pop of color, chopped cilantro was added as a final garnish.
It is suggested you serve over hot jasmine rice, yet we are not typically fans of both potatoes and rice in the same dish. Although it would be lovely over rice to help sop up the wonderful sauce, we would substitute sweet bell red and/or green peppers in place of the potatoes, cooking them first before the onions to reduce incorporating any more liquid into the curry.
Tips: Don’t forget to trim off any silver skin from the short ribs before slicing. The silver skin is stringy and fibrous unless the meat is cooking for a long time, and if left in place, it will cause the slices of beef to curl during simmering. Look for sambal in well-stocked supermarkets and Asian grocery stores; if it’s not available, chili-garlic paste is a good substitute.
Beef and Potato Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut
- 1½ lbs. boneless beef short ribs (or chuck roast), trimmed and cut to ⅛-inch thick slices against the grain
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1 medium red onion, halved thinly sliced
- 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
- 2 Tbsp. curry powder
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½ inches in diameter), unpeeled, halved
- 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. sambal oelek or chili-garlic paste, plus more as needed
- Cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish (optional)
- Season the beef with salt and pepper; set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, curry powder, star anise and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften and the mixture is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add the beef, potatoes, coconut milk and sambal, then bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot. Reduce to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the largest potatoes meets no resistance, about 30 minutes (or longer).
- Off heat, taste and season with salt, pepper and additional sambal. Remove and discard the star anise and lemon grass. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if using.
Adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street