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Beef Green Curry

This beef-forward curry is rich, creamy, and satisfying.

Here is the most satisfying and delicious beef green curry I’ve ever made. It’s thicker than most versions, with just enough sauce to coat the meat—khluk khlik, as a Thai would say—and it is heavier on cumin. It has no vegetables—not even eggplants, allowing the beef to take center stage with the fragrance of the paste and the sweet, creamy coconut milk sharing the spotlight. The only perfuming herb is bruised and torn makrut lime leaves. Although the curry is intensely green it isn’t very hot, as the veins of the chiles have been removed. But then I top it with fresh green chiles, vibrant and fragrant, reinforcing the fresh chiles in the paste as well as ratcheting up the heat. Finally, I drizzle some fresh coconut cream on top. This is beef green curry at its best.

This is excerpted from Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand, by  Leela Punyaratabandh, reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press.

Ingredients

Makes 4 servings
  • + Curry Paste
  • 1/2 C freshly extracted coconut cream, or 1/2 C canned coconut cream plus 1 T extra-virgin coconut oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 C coconut milk
  • 2 lbs untrimmed boneless well-marbled chuck steak or rib-eye steak, thinly sliced against the grain on a 40-degree angle into bite-size pieces
  • 2 t fish sauce, or as needed
  • 1 t packed grated palm sugar, or as needed
  • 4 makrut lime leaves, lightly bruised and torn into small pieces
  • fresh green Thailong or bird's eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 C packed Thai sweet basil leaves

Curry Paste

  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1 t white peppercorns
  • 1 t coarse salt (omit if using a food processor)
  • 1 T finely chopped galangal
  • 1 T paper-thin lemongrass slices (with purple rings only)
  • 1 t finely chopped makrut lime rind
  • 1/2" tumeric root or 1/2 t ground tumeric
  • 1 t packed Thai shrimp paste
  • 5 fresh green Thai long chiles, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 7 fresh green bird's eye chiles
  • 1 T finely chopped cilantro roots or stems
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C sliced shallots, cut against the grain

Preparation

Make the Curry Paste

Curry Paste
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1 t white peppercorns
  • 1 t coarse salt (omit if using a food processor)
  • 1 T finely chopped galangal
  • 1 T paper-thin lemongrass slices (with purple rings only)
  • 1 t finely chopped makrut lime rind
  • 1/2" tumeric root or 1/2 t ground tumeric
  • 1 t packed Thai shrimp paste
  • 5 fresh green Thai long chiles, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 7 fresh green bird's eye chiles
  • 1 T finely chopped cilantro roots or stems
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C sliced shallots, cut against the grain
  1. In a small frying pan, toast the coriander and cumin over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

  2. Transfer to a mortar, add the peppercorns, and grind to a fine powder.

  3. Add the salt, then, one at a time, add the galangal, lemongrass, lime rind, turmeric, shrimp paste, chiles, cilantro, garlic, and shallots, grinding to a smooth paste after each addition. Alternatively, combine all of the ingredients except the salt in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste.

Make the Curry

Ingredients
  • + Curry Paste
  • 1/2 C freshly extracted coconut cream, or 1/2 C canned coconut cream plus 1 T extra-virgin coconut oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 C coconut milk
  • 2 lbs untrimmed boneless well-marbled chuck steak or rib-eye steak, thinly sliced against the grain on a 40-degree angle into bite-size pieces
  • 2 t fish sauce, or as needed
  • 1 t packed grated palm sugar, or as needed
  • 4 makrut lime leaves, lightly bruised and torn into small pieces
  • fresh green Thailong or bird's eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 C packed Thai sweet basil leaves
  1. Put the curry paste and coconut cream in a 4-quart saucepan, set over medium-high heat, and stir until the fat separates and you can smell the dried spices, 1–­2 minutes.

  2. Add the beef, the coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar, stir well, cover, turn the heat to medium, and cook until the beef is no longer pink, 7–­8 minutes.

  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce and/or sugar if needed. Check the consistency and amount of the sauce and add water if needed. For this curry, I like just enough sauce to coat the meat—like pot roast.

  4. Stir in the lime leaves, fresh chiles, and basil leaves.

  5. The curry can be transferred to a serving dish and served right away with rice, or it can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated overnight and then reheated the next day (the flavor will be even better). When you serve the curry, top it with the extra coconut cream.