Green curry is an easy fix — especially take-out versions. But familiarity breeds contempt. Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand ($24), a new cookbook from Leela Punyaratabandhu, founder of the award-winning cooking blog SheSimmers, features an easy yet flavorful beef-based rendition to break the after-work monotony.
“Here is the most satisfying and delicious beef green curry I’ve ever made,” she writes. “It’s thicker than most versions, with just enough sauce to coat the meat.” The recipe relies on three basic ingredients: cumin, beef and coconut milk. Garlic, shallots, a few mild chilis and lime leaves are added to taste, but the recipe as a whole lets the beef and curry paste do the heavy lifting — so you don’t have to.
Beef Green Curry
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse salt (omit if using a food processor)
1 tablespoon finely chopped galangal
1 tablespoon paper-thin lemongrass slices (with purple rings only)
1 teaspoon finely chopped makrut lime rind
½-inch piece turmeric root (or: ½ teaspoon ground turmeric)
1 teaspoon packed Thai shrimp paste
5 fresh green Thai long chiles, deveined and coarsely chopped
7 fresh green bird’s-eye chiles
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro roots or stems
5 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup sliced shallots, cut against the grain
1/2 cup freshly extracted coconut cream, or ½ cup canned coconut cream plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 pounds 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 teaspoons fish sauce, or as needed
1 teaspoon packed grated palm sugar, or as needed
4 makrut lime leaves, lightly bruised and torn into small pieces
Fresh green Thai long or bird’s-eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup packed Thai sweet basil leaves
1. To make the curry paste, 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. 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.
3. To make the curry, put the 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 to 2 minutes.
4. 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 to 8 minutes. 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,” Punyaratabandhu writes.
5. Stir in the lime leaves, fresh chiles, and basil leaves.
6. 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 coconut cream.
The recipe above appears in Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand by Leela Punyaratabandhu, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Buy Now: $24