Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Creamy Penang Beef Curry...as requested by the teen in my life






We've had a true dilemma recently.  Seriously, I say this with a crinkle between my brow, a slow sad swaying of my head, and a heavy sigh of conscious resignation.

Our favorite...most tried and true Thai restaurant has disappointed us not once, not twice, but three times in the past several months.  


Something has happened there.  We don't know what, nor why, nor how...but...who can live without their favorite curry?  N.O.T. the Kenney family.








...the curry was brought to the table...cold!
...the appetizers have arrived with the meals!
...the service has slowed to an impossible speed!

As much as I wish we were the type to travel all over the vast city of Houston trying one restaurant after another, week after week, collecting an assortment of restaurant reviews, critiques, and experiences...truth be told, we are not of that "ilk".

I wouldn't say that we are...boring, per se.

Well, o.k., upon reflection, we are rather unvaried in our restaurant tours, I guess.  Oh go ahead, if truth must be outed...we are rather boring, I guess.  But, why stray from 

what is a known find?  
Repeatedly delicious experiences? 
and happy bellies in the end?

We just don't eat out that often.  When we want delicious Indian, we know where to go.  When we want fresh seafood for our po'boys, we can only think of one spot.  Same with Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, etc.  We have our "go-to" favorites.





So as you can see, my furrowed brow, head swaying, sigh sighing are all part and parcel to the dilemma that we have been enduring.  

We no longer have our star Thai restaurant in that beloved line-up of pet picks.  Our son is hurting the most.  Thai curry is one of his most favorite dishes.  He gets the dinner portion so we can bring half home and he can relive the dining pleasure again the next day.


He has requested lately that I "puh-leeze" figure out how to make a curry so that he can hold out until we hunt down the next new and perfect Thai experience.





Yes sir, was my reply to Riley.  I knew just where to go.  I knew just where to get the inspiration, recipe, and smile that greets me when I visit the lovely Devaki of "Weave a Thousand Flavors".  

Devaki had a recipe on her blog the other day that sounded so deliciously creamy, spicy, and perfectly flavored.  She takes you right through the steps of finding the ingredients for her dishes as well as how to prepare them.




Often when I'm on my walks, and families in the area have their windows open, I can smell the alluring flavors of Indian spices and wonder what magic is happening in those kitchens and how are those flavors all marrying together.




When we were house hunting a few years back, I would often peek into the pantries of houses where Indian families live and ogle the many colorful jars of spices that were lined up on the shelves.

Cumin, Coriander, ginger, cardamom, chili pepper, and cinnamon were just some of the scents I could detect.


So, with Devaki's recipe in hand, I made her "Creamy Penang Beef Curry".    I had a fabulous time, slowing cruising the Viet Huong Asian market here in Houston locating the varied ingredients.  We learned that many regions of SW Asia as well as regions of India have their own variations of curry.  And that in addition to the root ginger, there is a root called...Galanga.




So, this curry recipe is from Penang, which is in Northwestern Malaysia.  We learned that the lemon grass, lime leaves, red peanuts, and garlic are indicative of the flavors of Thailand...but the cumin, coriander, and shrimp paste are uniquely Malay.  

In short, the description Devaki gave on her blog was exactly how the dish tasted.  Our windows were open and the aromas of all of the spices swirled in and out of windows all up and down the street.  

This could be dangerous indeed... or the beginning of a wonderful culinary journey in my kitchen.  I may just start going down the list of our Thai favorites and recreate our own tried and true experiences...that are served 

...after the appetizer, 
...hot instead of cold, 
...and not long after our order is placed!  Hmphff!


Malaysian Panang Curry
Serves 4 (from "Weave a Thousand Flavors" blog)
Preparation time - 20 minutes

Cooking time – approx. 1 hr -20 mins
Shopping list
2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast or boneless lamb
5 tbs vegetable oil
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1 qty 15 oz can coconut milk
Curry Paste: 
2 tbs vegetable oil
6 tbs water (add 1-2 tbs more as needed)
1 stalk lemongrass (or 1 tbs chopped lemongrass)
2" fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 shallots
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp red chili powder (less if you don’t like it spicy)
1 tsp salt
2 tbs shrimp paste (or shrimp belacan)
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup red skin peanuts
Sauce:
1-1/2 tbs sugar (or palm sugar)
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp salt
For garnish: Thinly sliced Kaffir lime leaves if desired.
To serve: Steamed Jasmine rice
Preparation:
Place the steak in the freezer while preparing the vegetables.
Curry paste: Blend all the ingredients into a smooth paste in a food processor. **I couldn't break down the lemon grass enough.  So, I smashed it with a meat tenderizer and put it in the curry sauce.  I then removed it from the sauce before serving (sort of like a bouquet-garni)
Steak: With a very sharp knife, slice into 1/4" thick strips against the grain to shorten the muscle fibers resulting in tender meat when cooked.
Method:
On medium-high heat, heat oil in a wok or heavy bottom panAdd the kaffir lime leaves & stir-fry for 10 seconds.
Add the curry paste and on medium heat and continue stir-frying for about 5-7 minutes until the oil slightly separates in puddles & the curry paste is fragrant.
Add the beef in and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes till the oil separates form the curry paste once again.
Add the coconut milk, sauce & ¼ cup water. Stir well & bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight fitting lid.
Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 1 hour to 1 hr – 20 mins or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Stir regularly to prevent sticking at the bottom of the pan
Cook’s Note: Add 1/4 cup water at a time if when it appears bit dry, is sticking to the bottom of the pan or you prefer it soupier
Taste and adjust seasonings – salt, fish sauce & sugar.
The curry should be rich and thick – not like the soupier Thai curries.
Sprinkle with more finely sliced kaffir leaves if desired and serve with steamed Jasmine rice.



36 comments:

  1. What a wonderful honor to be featured on your blog and in this beautiful manner, Sarah. You make me blush and smile and make me very happy indeed. You've taken my version and made it entirely your own! I love your pictures, your story and attention to detail. Thank You for this generous and heart felt gesture and I'm delighted that the curry bought a little something special to your family dinner.

    Hugs! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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    1. Your wonderful articles have opened a whole new culinary curiosity for us. The requests are coming in...what about this curry or that curry! Thank you Devaki, for a great food blog!

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  2. It just got really cold again here, and I'm in the mood for some spicy curry! I make a lot of curries, but for some reason rarely use beef. I know my husband would love me to make this, so I will for sure. Your dishes and trays are so gorgeous, I wish we were neighbors...I'd pop over and ask to borrow them!

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    1. I know, I've rarely had a beef curry as well. We were all craving beef so that is how it got chosen. Isn't it funny how food photography can be like having the ultimate tea party?!

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  3. Sarah, gorgeous photography as usual and very nice collection of props-)

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  4. I love Thai Food! I'm also loving these dark photos and your props! I need to come raid your house!!

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    1. Thanks Meagan. That first photo is pretty dark. I think I might need to get my eyes ready for reading glasses!

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  5. Wow, this sounds SO good and I'm impressed you made your own curry paste! I can't wait to give this a try. Aren't kaffir lime leaves magical?

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    1. The curry paste was the most fun. I couldn't believe how many ingredients went in it...and the aroma! Indeed!

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  6. Wow you put a lot of time and effort into the dish and it shows! I can almost smell it from here - yum!
    Mary x

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  7. I hate it when a tried and trusted restaurant goes wrong. We also have our favourites which we go to time and again. I have never tasted Thai food - but then I am not very adventurous when it comes to food

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    1. It was rather comical how "out of sorts" we were about losing our Thai choice. It's not like there are around a million restaurants in this HUGE city. We really need to get out more!

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  8. Such a nice mom...and a very brave culinary soul Sarah, so impressive that you tackled Panang, but if anyone could do it, of course, you can! Our favorite Thai place just lost quite a lot of our respect and faith when for their Garlic fried rice they doused it with *Garlic Powder & Garlic Salt*...tons of it, it was awful, and we were thirsty for days...so sad.
    It really would be fun to get this adventurous in the kitchen...thanks for the inspiration!
    xo J~

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    1. What surprised me was how easy this was to pull together. The curry base had many ingredients but they just all went into the food processor at one time. I am definitely hooked on making curries!

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  9. Sarah, that was truly a labor of love hunting down those ingredients. Can't believe it was only 20 minutes of prep time. Was your son happy with the results? I'm bookmarking the recipe since it looks delicious. I have a curry recipe that I love but with far fewer ingredients. Haven't made it in ages, will have to add it to the list of "things to make for dinner" as a change of pace. Beautiful photos and props!

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    1. We have this huge (think Walmart size) Asian grocery store here. I loved that I had a "mission" there and wasn't just wandering around like some tourist.

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  10. I completely understand the disappointment you felt with your local Thai restaurant. The same thing happened with us several years ago when we lived in another neighbourhood. Our local Thai went from fab to terrible within a few weeks! It's always good to know you can make it yourself!

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    1. Yay...it works now! I immediately had 2 annoying "anonymous" comments. I'll just continue "spamming" them. Wow. Your the third person to have had trouble with their Thai restaurant changing quality!

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  11. So sad for your favorite Thai restaurant! We are like you....eating out is something that we seldom do...but when we do it, we want it to be wonderful, special...and a favorite, tried-n-true spot! Your curry sounds delicious!

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  12. We’ve had two of our favorite lunch restaurants close in the last 6 months! I was so disappointed when I took a friend to lunch and found the doors locked and no explanation!
    You are a very cool mom for making this dish for your son! It looks delicious even though I’m not a fan of Thai food!

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    1. How disappointing that the doors were locked and you had no idea! We women know how important lunch dates with girlfriends are!

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  13. Lovely curry Sarah! Thai curries are so flavorful and delicious. Great photos as usual!

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  14. That is horrible, and so disappointing when a favorite restaurant takes a turn for the worse. We had that happen in our favorite Indian place -- made us sad. Well at least your family has you to cook them all those scrumptious meals, like this one. Your curry looks amazing!

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    1. I hope this doesn't happen too often. I love eating out on the weekends! I can just hear everyone..."Mom, just make it, mom just make it, you can do it." I remember my mother used to say that about clothing. "Oh, we don't need to buy that, I can just MAKE it for you!"

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  15. I am not a very good cook and could probably never
    make these recipes with any success, but I simply
    love to come here for the photos! I love all your
    antique dishes and silverware...everything
    always looks so beautiful...Corinne

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    1. I had little knowledge around the kitchen until about 2 years ago! I just decided to pull out recipes and...begin!

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  16. You have managed to turn the making of a curry dish into an adventure. I don't think there is anything boring about you or your family.

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    1. This one was an adventure for me. I squealed in the Asian store when the little tiny many ushered me way over to the other side of the store for that Galanga root.

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  17. Have you tried Vieng Thai in Houston? If not, you definitely should - cheap and tasty. Also, I really like Banana Leaf in Chinatown :)

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    1. No, we haven't!! But, we will! Thanks, Rooth for the recommendations! How's the move going?

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    2. Settling in well, thank you for asking. I can't believe I'm missing crawfish season in Houston though :(

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  18. Lucky you to have a teen with such a discerning palette..and a photographic eye that transforms your cooking into art!!!

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    1. Yes, he has a discerning palette for Sundays. The rest of the week it is possibly egg on toast!! Ha!

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  19. It's always a pity when a favorite place looses appeal, but, this curry sounds and looks great!

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  20. This post inspired me to get our family to try an Indian restaurant in Old Pasedena last night... thank you my dear!

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