Thai Style Red Coconut Curry and Beef
We all have those days . . . yes, even me- the Dinner Diva. My day started at 5 a.m., I commuted an hour and twenty minutes (nearly 80 miles) to get to work, spent a day on my feet teaching and maintaining a level of frantic energy for my students, ran work-related errands, and after all that . . . had a two hour rehearsal! I was ready for dinner on the table and in my face immediately after rehearsal . . . but, unfortunately, had another 80 mile commute to get back home. I spent much of the drive thinking to myself, "I don't want to cook tonight- I'm friggin' tired! Perhaps . . . take-out?" But then about three miles from good old Exit 283, I remembered several things. First of all, most of my days are like this- busy and crazed! Second, I have everything sitting there in my kitchen waiting for me to make my own delicious take-out Thai food in less time than it would take me to get home to let the dog out, get to the restaurant, order the food, wait for the food . . . you get the idea! Third, the process of cooking dinner is a relaxing experience. Sautéing vegetables and sipping a glass of wine can actually be a great way to unwind at the end of the day. And my reward for sticking to my planned menu and not taking the road to Take-Out Town? A delicious and inexpensive meal in about twenty minutes after I walked in the door.
I love Thai food! So spicy! So colorful! So yummy! Unfortunately the town where I currently reside is devoid of anything even resembling Thai food. I devised this recipe as a quick and inexpensive way to enjoy the take-out experience at home on a weeknight. The recipe can easily feed four (maybe more) for about ten bucks. Really.
- 1 lb. stir-fry beef (skirt steak or some cheap cut of beef, sliced into strips), seasoned with salt
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 1 onion, peeled, halved, and sliced thin
- 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced into disks
- 1/2 c. frozen peas
- 1 14 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp. red curry paste
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 8 oz. rice noodles
In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add rice noodles and cook 3-4 minutes until noodles are tender. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. Add 1 Tbsp. curry paste and beef. Stir fry over medium heat for about 4 minutes until beef is browned on the outside with a little pink in the middle. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef from skillet and put into a large bowl. Add remaining oil to pan and add eggplant. Stir fry 1-2 minutes over medium heat then add carrot, onion, and bell pepper. Stir fry 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat until vegetables begin to soften. Season with about 1 tsp. salt and stir to combine. Add vegetables to bowl with beef. Add coconut milk, pepper flakes, fish sauce, and remaining curry paste to same skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook on stove top about 3 minutes for sauce to thicken. Add peas to skillet and cook over heat for about 2 minutes. Return beef and vegetables to skillet and stir to combine. Add rice noodles to mixture and toss until sauce and ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat. Serve. Put in your face!
As a note . . . don't bother with light coconut milk. The slight calorie difference is not worth the loss of creaminess you get from using regular coconut milk. Really.