Mussaman Beef Curry is my personal favourite of all the conventional Thai curries that we know and love; I find it has a depth of flavour that is sometimes absent in other Thai curries. In particular, the aromatics in this recipe give a smoky edge to the sauce that takes the curry to a whole new level.
The irony about this particular mussaman curry recipe is that it’s actually adapted from one by a television chef who thoroughly irked me for turning his nose up at ready-made pastes, but I must confess that I found his technique for making of this curry surprisingly authentic. Nevertheless, I still felt the need to tweak it here and there. Of course his version requires the “essential” homemade paste made out of 14 additional ingredients, my does not. Both versions taste wonderful, but only one takes half the effort and expense. I’m Asian and I know which one I’m calling my own.
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Thai Mussaman Beef Curry: Serves 6
800g beef short ribs, cut into chunks with bone-in
400ml coconut milk
6 black cardamom pods (alcha)
10cm cinnamon stick
2-3 tbsp. mussaman curry paste
1-2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. tamarind water, or 1 tsp. tamarind paste
1 tbsp. palm sugar
1 large potato, pealed and thickly sliced
6 shallots (or baby onions), peeled and left whole
For the Garnish:
75g roasted peanuts
Thai Basil, optional
Place the beef, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt & 350ml coconut milk (reserve 50ml in a bowl for later) into a thick-based pot. Fill the empty coconut milk tin with water and add this to the pot as well. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat, partially cover and cook gently for about 2 hours.
In the meantime prepare your shallots and potato.
Once the meat is tender, remove from the pot and keep to one side. Strain the coconut broth into a bowl or jug, discarding the aromatics and any bones that may have come away from the meat.
Clean out the pot and return to the heat. Add a couple of tsp. of oil and then add the curry paste. Fry for a minute and then add the reserved coconut milk. Allow the oil to separate from the paste and then add the meat back to the pan. Coat the meat in the paste and fry for a minute or so. Pour the coconut broth into the pan, along with the potato, shallots, tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar.
Note: I would go easy on the fish sauce as the ready-made paste will probably be salted already, rather taste the curry later and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Bring the curry back to the boil and allow to simmer uncovered for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes and shallots are tender.
Leave to cool a little and then skim the oil which will rise to the surface of the curry.
Reheat gently when ready to serve.
Garnish with peanuts and torn Thai basil.