April 28, 2011

Red Curry Beef with Eggplant and Mushrooms

Today's recipe is something I tossed together, a Thai-influenced beef and vegetable curry.  It's quick and easy to make, and full of flavor.

A lot of people find eggplant bitter, and sometimes it is, especially larger eggplants.  For this recipe, use a medium-sized one, or two small ones. 

One of the keys to this dish is the trick of cooking the curry paste in the hot oil.   This is a trick common to Indian curries as well as Southeast Asian ones, and it serves both to intensify the flavor of the seasonings and to flavor the oil, so that everything cooked in it is imparted with the flavors. 

I didn't have any Thai basil around when I tossed this together, but if I had, I'd have added a half-cup or so of the Thai basil (a half-cup or so) along with the beef and skipped the cilantro garnish.  If you have access to Thai basil, give that a try.   I think it will make the recipe even better.

Red Curry Beef with Eggplant

yield = 4 servings

3                       tablespoons fish sauce
2                       tablespoons lime juice
2                       teaspoons cornstarch
1                       pound beef sirloin, sliced thin
2                       tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2                       tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1                       can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1                       tablespoon granulated sugar
8                       ounces button mushrooms, quartered
1                       medium eggplant, peeled and cut into chunks
1                       tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves to garnish (if desired)

Whisk together two tablespoons fish sauce, one tablespoon lime juice and cornstarch in a medium bowl.  Add the sliced beef, toss to coat and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, stir in the curry paste and cook until fragrant and bubbling, about 1 minute.  Add the beef mixture and stir fry until just browned on all sides.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the coconut milk, remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce and lime juice and sugar to the skillet.  Heat to a simmer, then add the mushrooms and eggplant and cook for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is tender and the sauce has thickened.

Return the beef to the plan.  Stir and cook until the beef is heated through.  Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve over jasmine rice.

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