There’s so much happening in this post. And I love it. I’ve got cooking with a dear friend, pictures taken by her most excellent husband, and not one, but two recipes. All in this post. It’s a good day.
Julie and I have been friends since college. We met in the first couple of weeks of school and instantly hit it off. We, along with the rest of our group, most affectionately known as The Divas, have been inseparable since our freshman year at American University. We aren’t even friends at this point. We’re sisters. Truly. These ladies are my family.
Julie grew up all over the world and, as a result, has some serious food knowledge. She also loves to cook just as much as I do and has one heck of an Asian pantry at her house. We have tons of fun together in the kitchen.
For this dish, we first made the Panang curry paste. You should be able to find most of the ingredients in a well-stocked grocery store and the rest in an Asian market. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list; you pretty much just dump everything in a food processor and you’re done. The recipe only makes about 1/2 cup of the paste, but it freezes beautifully, so Julie likes to make a quadruple batch and freeze it in 1/2 c. portions. Once made, the curry paste then becomes part of one seriously flavorful and comforting dish.
Friends, food, and fun. Winning all around.
Panang Curry with Beef
both recipes from Su-Mei Yu, Cracking the Coconut
For the Panang paste:
1 tsp. sea salt
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 TBSP minced cilantro leaves and stems
15 dried chiles de arbol or Japonés, softened in warm water, half seeded, half not
1 tsp. Thai white or regular black peppercorns, toasted and ground
1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, hard outer layers removed, minced
1 1/2 TBSP lime zest or 1 TBSP Kaffir lime zest
1 shallot, minced
1 TBSP red miso paste
3 TBSP unsalted peanuts, roasted
For the beef:
3 c. coconut milk, divided
1/2 c. Panang chile paste
2 lbs. beef tri-tip, thinly sliced against the grain into 2-in. strips
3 TBSP fish sauce
1/4 c. palm sugar or packed light brown sugar
zest of 3 limes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-in. slices
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-in. slices
10-12 red bird or 4-5 serrano chiles, half seeded, half not, slivered and divided
rice, for serving
cilantro, for garnish
1. To make the Panang paste, place salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until a chunky paste forms. One at a time, add remaining ingredients up to shallot, pulsing in between each addition to form a smooth and coherent paste. Add red miso and peanuts and purée completely. If paste is overly thick, add water, 1 tsp. at a time.
2. To make beef, bring 2 c. coconut milk and chile paste to a boil over high heat in a 4-qt. sauce pan, stirring constantly. Lower heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 minutes.
3. Add beef, stirring to coat, then add fish sauce and palm or brown sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture returns to a boil.
4. Add lime zest and remaining coconut milk and lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 30 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, then add in bell peppers and half red bird or serrano chiles. Cook 15-20 minutes more, until pepper strips are adequately softened.
5. To serve, scoop rice into a bowl and spoon beef mixture over. Garnish with additional chiles and/or cilantro, if desired.
Yield: 4-6 servings