The dried spices in this complex, coconut-enriched Thai curry from chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok reveal its South Asian origins. Ricker’s advice, from his October 2013 article The Star of Siam: “Follow the recipe exactly the first time, then adjust the seasonings and the coconut milk. Put your stamp on it. After all, that’s what the Thai do.”
FOR THE PASTE
- 6 small Asian shallots or 2 medium regular shallots, unpeeled
- 2 small heads garlic, unpeeled
- 1 (3″-piece) galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 (2″-piece) ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 20 dried red Thai chiles or chiles de árbol, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp. mild curry powder
- 2 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro root or stems
- 2 tbsp. shrimp paste, preferably Trachang brand
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 6 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and thinly sliced
FOR THE CURRY
- 1 1⁄2 lb. beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 2″ strips about 1/2″ thick
- 3 cups coconut milk, preferably UHT from a carton
- 1 cup coconut cream, preferably UHT from a carton
- 10 small Asian shallots, halved, or 3 medium regular shallots, quartered
- 3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
- 2 tbsp. grated palm sugar
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce, preferably Tiparos brand
- Cooked jasmine rice, for serving
- Make the paste: Heat a 12″ cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place shallots and garlic on a piece of foil and fold into a tight package; add to pan. Cook, flipping once, until soft, about 25 minutes. Let cool, then peel and roughly chop; set aside. Place galangal and ginger in a single layer on a piece of foil and fold into a flat package; add to pan. Cook, flipping once, until soft, about 7 minutes; set aside. Heat coriander seeds in pan until seeds begin to pop, 1–2 minutes; let cool slightly. Place in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground; set aside.
- Place chiles in a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp. liquid. Place chiles in a small food processor with shallots, garlic, galangal, ginger, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, cilantro root, shrimp paste, salt, and lemongrass; pulse until roughly chopped. Add reserved liquid; purée until smooth. Set 1 cup aside; refrigerate remaining paste for future use up to 2 weeks.
- Make the curry: Bring beef and coconut milk to a simmer in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl and reserve 1 1⁄2 cups coconut milk; set beef and coconut milk aside.
- Heat coconut cream in a 6-qt. saucepan or 13″ wok over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is separated, about 30 minutes. Add the 1 cup curry paste; cook, stirring, until slightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add reserved coconut milk to pan along with 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Add reserved beef, plus shallots and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are very tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in palm sugar and fish sauce. Serve with jasmine rice on the side.