In Thailand and at Farang this beef is dropped into an Aromatic curry known as ‘Gaeng Gari’, which translates as ‘curry curry’, so doesn’t really do it justice as a description really. It’s a banger of a curry and the paste recipe is in my book, ‘Cook Thai’ if you want to give it a go. This version is a bit more user friendly and once you have all the ingredients you can pretty much just bosh it in a pot and you’re off. There is nothing more appetising for the home-cook than a one pot wonder and this is certainly one to try. Using coconut cream and fish sauce instead of stock and salt to braise beef produces some seriously amazing results. This stew is one to try on a cold winters day when you need something to warm the soul, if you want to warm it a little more serve with nham pla, a ramekin full of sliced birds eye chilli and fish sauce.
Serves 2 / GF
400g, beef cheeks, excess fat removed and chopped into 3cm by 3cm chunks
2 sticks lemongrass, bruised in a pestle and mortar
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn to release flavour
2 long red chillies, bruised in a pestle and mortar
15g, Thai shallots, peeled and whole (any small, sweet shallot will do)
20g, peeled ginger, fine julienne
600-700ml coconut cream (enough to submerge the beef)
20-25ml fish sauce
1 heaped tablespoon soft brown sugar
1 heaped tablespoon of tamarind paste
10g Thai sweet basil (more common Italian basil will do)
50ml, good olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
10g coriander, picked and washed
Begin by coating the beef in the olive oil and the coarse sea salt and mix well with your hands ensuring that all the meat gets a good coating of oil and salt.
Next in a large oven proof tray add the beef, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, long red chillies, Thai shallots, two thirds of the julienne ginger, coconut cream, tamarind, fish sauce and the sugar then tightly wrap the tray in tin foil to protect the contents from direct heat of the oven, all ingredients should be completely submerged in the coconut cream. Next place this tray on the middle shelf in an oven that is pre-heated to 140 degrees centigrade and cook for 5-6 hours. Once the time has passed take the beef out and check that it is cooked correctly, you should be able to break up the piece of meat with a spoon as it is so tender. The trick to this dish is low and slow, let the heat of the oven do all the work and all you need to do is assemble all the ingredients into one tray.
Once the beef is ready to come out taste the coconut broth to ensure that you are happy with the seasoning. It should be delicately sweet from the coconut cream and moreishly salty from the fish sauce, add a little more of either if you think necessary.
Once ready serve the stew in bowls topped with more julienne ginger and fresh coriander leaves, this is great served with steamed jasmine rice.