a curry-ful iftar

On her ’round the world adventure of a few years back, my sister spent some time in a thai cooking school.  When she returned, she imparted upon me the basics of thai cooking (and her recipe book).  When I came upon this recipe in my newest cookbook find (alhamdulilah for the public  library) The Curry Book, I looked for the important components of thai cooking – sweet, sour, spicy and salty.  Yup, they’re all there, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s a good thai recipe :)

This is agreat  iftar, if you can tolerate spicy.  You have some protein that will stick in your belly, fruit in the coconut milk, plenty of vegetables and some easy to process starch that will give you a pick me up.  All that’s missing is dairy, but next time I’m going to experiment and see if I can substitute half yogurt for the coconut milk to reduce the fat content.

Panaeng Beef Curry with Peanuts

  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 2 T panaeng or red curry paste (if you’re making this for someone who’s not a spice fan, either get a known mild curry paste or use just 1 T.  Most store bought curry pastes I’ve used have been very spicy.  Or, if you’re really adventurous, make your own and use a milder chili)
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced beef, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk, divided
  • 2 T fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
  • 1 T palm sugar (recipe says you can also use brown sugar, but if you’re going to cook thai food, get some palm sugar.  It’s really unsubstitutable)
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted salted peanuts, finley chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into long thin strips (I used a 1 lb bag of frozen stir fry veggies, defrosted.  There is plenty of sauce for a whole heck of a lt of veggies, even beyond a whole bag)
  • fresh basil sprigs
  • fresh lime leaves cut into strips

In a large frying pan over medium heat, combine the oil and the curry paste.  Cook 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat to keep the paste sizzling gently without popping and splashing, and mashing and craping the paste to soften and warm it.  Add the beef and cook 2 or 3 minutes, seperating the pieces to coat them with the paste and brown them evenly.

Stir the coconut milk well and add 1 cup to the frying pan.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook about 10 minutes, adjusting the heat to keep it simmering gently.

Add the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce (or soy sauce), sugar, and peanuts.  Cook gently about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the vegetables and stir them into the curry.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt or sugar as needed.

Serve over a bed of white rice and garnish with basil and lime leaves.  I didn’t have either and didn’t notice they were missing.

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