Thai Red Curry

Stir-fry cookbook

For my first birthday after Karin and I started dating, she got me this cookbook along with a very nice wok, the latter of which promptly got put into storage when we moved in together – how many woks does a household need on hand at any given moment? For us, that answer is one. From the text of the cookbook, this seems like it was written for a British audience – measurements in metric units, cilantro called coriander, etc. The book is a mix of stir-fry recipes from various cultures – Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and is divided into different types of meat, seafood, tofu and vegetables, with an appendix listing basic recipes for several curry pastes and sauces. Seems like it is out of print now, based upon the lack of availability on numerous book-selling websites. Which is a shame, since the book has some very clear & concise recipes and some of the nicest full-page food photography I’ve seen in a cookbook. Plus it’s sturdy despite being a paperback, which is sort of rare even for cookbooks.

Thai red curry

The Thai red curry recipe (pg. 33) I picked sounded good and looked tasty in the picture, but I also picked it since we have some red curry paste in the back of the fridge (used to make this originally) that wasn’t getting any younger and, well, I’ve been in an eggplant frame-of-mind for the last few weeks.

Note: I made the recipe as written below, but next time I plan to brown the beef before adding the curry paste – the way the recipe suggests led to the beef being very spicy, everything else being significantly milder, and some of the curry paste getting a bit burnt. Browning the beef first would spread the heat throughout the dish and keep the curry paste from sitting too long in the hot wok before you add the coconut milk and water in step 2.

Thai Red Curry

Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30-40 minutes

  • Cooking oil
  • 2-6 teaspoons red curry paste, to taste [I used 4]
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) round steak, thinly sliced
  • 375 ml (13 fl oz) coconut milk
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn [I used lime zest since I couldn’t find these]
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) eggplant, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
  • 1 medium handful Thai basil or 1 large handful cilantro leaves [I used regular basil]
  1. Heat the wok until very hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl it around to coat the side. Add the curry paste and stir for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the meat to the wok in batches and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until brown. Remove all the meat from the wok and set aside.
  2. Add the coconut milk, makrut leaves/lime zest, and 250 ml (1 cup) water to the wok, bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Return the beef to the wok and simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar to the wok. Add most of the basil leaves, toss and serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining basil.

Hint: The meat must be cooked for a short time so it remains tender.

Note: The makrut leaves are not meant to be eaten as they are rather tough. However, no harm will come to you if you do.

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