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Testing Recipes- Thai Red Beef Curry

You would think after over 30 years logged behind a stove I would automatically know the recipes I teach by heart. Because my reportorial menu changes with the wind, I find myself using the basic tried and true techniques, but tweaking along the way with new ingredients. Not knowing if the ingredient in mind will produce the same flavor, texture and look I am aiming for, I have to test and retest. Sometimes I get lucky on the first try and sometimes my results are meh at best. Testing is a critical part of teaching because if you don't and it bombs in class, you have to do very quick damage control. So I avoid this pitfall with testing at least a couple of times maybe even 4 or 5 times if it's a new recipe.

Most often it's a recipe I made back in the day, but have now forgotten the finer points of production. We also make changes specific to the class setting and equipment on the fly, so really the recipe gets a good run before it's released into the cyber world. In my defense too, I am always ready to take on the challenge of a new recipe suggested by a customer. This requires a deep dive not only into the possible ingredients in the dish, but the subject in general, the geography, the history and countless variations. This is where I usually get time drunk and fall into the abyss of the culinary web for hours. Yes, I know, dirty work, but SOMEBODY has to do this important work and today, it's lucky me!

Lately, I have been testing some Thai recipes. Well prepared Thai food is a exact taste of sweet, salty, sour and hot all in a delicate balance. Fresh and Spicy, this recipe is sure to please the pepper heads of the world. I am happy to report only minor tweaks to this round. I am a novice at Thai recipes, but that does not stop me from trying constantly to up my game....

Cook the curry sauce first, then add the beef

Cooking the Sauce with the vegetables here before the meat is added

The secret to a great beef curry is not to cook the meat too long.

Spicy Beef Thai Red Curry

Serves 4

Red curry paste can be purchased in those little red labeled cans in the Asian food section of your well stocked grocery store. I freeze my curry paste in 3 tablespoon portions because that's just about the right amount for a can of coconut milk.

Tip from my friend Chef Pak Williams- If you use a tougher cut of meat than steak you will need to simmer it in coconut milk for about an hour to tenderize before adding to the curry mixture.

Brown rice is a tasty stand in for Jasmine rice. I like to use Alton Brown's brown rice recipe baked in the oven.


3 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

3 tablespoons red curry paste

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk

1 1/2 cups sliced bell pepper- multicolored

8 ounces fresh broccoli, chopped small

1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin

8-12 ounces beef steak, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Thai basil leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt to taste

2 cups hot cooked Jasmine rice


In a large skillet or pot over medium heat, spoon in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, melt and add the red curry paste. Fry the paste until it starts to separate, about 5 minutes lowering heat if needed. Add the brown sugar, fish sauce, red pepper flakes and stir until combined. Add coconut milk and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the vegetables. While the vegetables are cooking, on the stove next to the curry, heat a medium skillet over medium heat heat the remaining spoon of coconut oil and place the thinly sliced beef in the hot pan. Sear quickly on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side. After the meat is seared, add it to the curry mixture. Right before serving, add the basil leaves, lime juice and salt to taste.

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