Red Curry of Beef with Green Peppercorns, Wild Ginger and Holy Basil

On Monday, April 15th, 2013

  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Serves: 6
  • Type: Curry


  • 150 gm coconut oil
  • 1 kg boneless Angus beef short rib, cut into 4cm pieces
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock, brought to the simmer
  • 300 ml coconut cream, brought to the simmer
  • 50 ml fish sauce, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp shaved light palm sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp wild ginger (see note)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk fresh green peppercorns
  • ½ cup each (firmly packed) holy basil and Thai basil leaves
  • To serve: steamed jasmine rice, and kaffir lime leaf and long red chilli, each cut into julienne

Red curry paste

  • 1 Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
  • 20 gm (4cm piece) galangal, thinly sliced
  • 50 gm smoked trout, coarsely flaked
  • 10 long dried red chillies, seeds removed, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes, drained
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes, drained
  • 1 tbsp roasted shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns, coarsely ground

Cucumber relish

  • 200 ml rice vinegar
  • 150 gm caster sugar
  • 2 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
  • 1 pickled garlic head (see note)
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 23 gm (5cm) piece of ginger, cut into julienne
  • 1 red shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ long red chilli, seeds removed, cut into julienne
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) coriander leaves

Preparation method

Serves 6

Prep time 45 mins, cook 3 hrs 30 mins (plus cooling)

“The curry paste can be made ahead and keeps for 4 to 6 days in the refrigerator. It also freezes well.”

For red curry paste, pound onion, garlic, coriander roots and galangal in a large mortar and pestle to a coarse paste, then transfer to a food processor. Pound remaining ingredients (except peppercorns) with 1 tbsp sea salt to a coarse paste, then add to processor and process to a smooth paste, stir through pepper. Makes 250ml.

For cucumber relish, combine vinegar, sugar, coriander root and garlic in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, remove from heat, strain and cool to room temperature. Combine cucumber, ginger, shallot, chilli and coriander leaves in a bowl, add vinegar mixture and set aside. Makes about 300ml.

Melt coconut oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add curry paste and 1 tsp sea salt, stir until fragrant and roasted (10-15 minutes). Add beef, cook until sealed (2-3 minutes). Add stock and coconut cream, cook until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Season to taste with fish sauce and palm sugar, cook over low heat until meat is tender (2½-3 hours), adding more stock if necessary. Add wild ginger, lime leaves, chilli and peppercorns and season to taste – it should be hot, salty and sweet. Add basil, simmer for 5 minutes, then serve scattered with kaffir lime and chilli, with steamed rice and cucumber relish to the side.

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