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Thai Red Curry with Beef and Kabocha Squash

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

This hearty curry, filled with chunks of strip steak and dense, pumpkin-y kabocha squash, is perfect for cold nights.

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  • 1 (13.5- to 14-oz.) can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth, or homemade chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar or light brown palm sugar; more as needed
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce; more as needed
  • 1 cup sliced kabocha squash (1/4-inch-thick bite-size slices)
  • 1 cup bite-size green bean pieces
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed, bruised, and cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
  • 3 1/8-inch-thick slices fresh ginger or galangal
  • 1 lb. beef strip steak, cut into 1/4-inch-thick bite-size slices
  • 1 cup bite-size pieces fresh baby corn
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
  • Fresh red chiles, cut into 1/8-inch strips or sliced into rings, for garnish

Shake the can of coconut milk or stir it well (this creates a consistent thickness, since the fat often solidifies at the top of the can).

In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan or wok over medium heat, simmer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. It will get very thick and shiny and may or may not separate; either is fine.

Add the curry paste, whisk well, and cook, continuing to whisk, for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and remaining coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Add the kabocha squash, green beans, ginger slices, and lemongrass pieces and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary. After 2 minutes, add the beef and baby corn and continue to simmer until everything is tender and cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

Remove the curry from the heat. Season to taste with more sugar and fish sauce, and stir in the cilantro. Transfer to a serving bowl (or serve right out of the pot). Remove the ginger and lemongrass or tell your guests to eat around them. Garnish with the red chiles.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Steamed Jasmine Rice.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 440; Fat (g): fat g 28; Fat Calories (kcal): 250; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 21; Protein (g): protein g 24; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 26; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 620; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 50; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Apart from the prep work, this was dead simple and very richly flavored. It needed a few minor tweaks - I recommend blanching the green beans separately in *salted* boiling water before adding them to the curry; otherwise they took too long to soften, and didn't seem to soak up seasoning from the broth. The curry overall needed a slight hit of salt (maybe because I had a light hand with the fish sauce). I recommend Maesri canned curry paste - remember that it's a half-cup per can, so don't dump in the whole can like I did. The kabocha is absolutely delicious in this dish, but if you can't find it, try chunks of white-fleshed Korean or Japanese sweet potato or regular yam.

This was very good--like eating at our local Thai restaurant. I used Trader Joes light coconut milk which is excellent. I couldn't get fresh baby corn and so I used canned, which was fine. I did cook the vegetables several minutes longer to get them cooked through. The recommended amount of curry powder was no too spicy. We also thought that the curry needed a little salt at the end. I will make this again as my husband and son both liked it.

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