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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Massaman Nuea (Beef Massaman Curry)

Massaman Nuea (Beef Massaman Curry)
for about 4-6 servings

This recipe looks daunting, but I promise it will be the best Massaman Curry you have ever tasted. Even if you opted for the canned paste rather thank using this recipe, the process of marinading and simmering of beef in coconut milk and the addition of spice during the cooking will improve the taste dramatically.


Beef Marinade

1 kg. beef (I use the Chuck cut)
1tsp Ginger, grated
2 cups coconut milk*
2 tbsp Fish sauce

Massaman Paste*
15 medium pieces of dried chilli, soaked, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup sliced garlic
1/3 cup sliced shallots
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp lemongrass, chopped
1 tsp galangal, peeled, chopped
1 tsp kaffir lime zest
1 tsp cilantro roots, scraped, chopped
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp shrimp paste, roasted

To finish the curry
2 tbsp oil
2 cups coconut cream*
2 cardamom leaves
1 tbsp whole cardamom
1 inch piece of Cinnamon
150 g peanuts
5 whole shallots, peeled
¼ cup palm sugar
1 tbsp tamarind, mixed with 1/3 cup warm water and strained
2 tbsp fish sauce

First you marinade the beef:
Cut the beef into large chunks and marinade them in the coconut milk and julienned ginger. Set aside for at least 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step. Simmer the beef chunks in the marinade in for another half an hour.

Next you pound the curry paste:
(Note: This step is optional. You could just skip it if you opted for a commercial canned version. The resulting Massaman won't be as good, of course, but still quite acceptable.)
While the beef is simmering, pound or grind all the Masaman paste ingredients together until the paste resembles a fine puree. You can add a little water to the paste if it became too thick to be processed in a blender. Take care not to add too much water as the paste will create a nasty splash when cooked.

Now you make the curry:
Heat up half a large wok or sauteed pan with 2 tbsp oil, add the massaman paste and cook for a few minutes, stirring vigorously. Add a cup of the coconut cream in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste is completely dissolved into the coconut cream. Let the mixture bubble for a few minutes until a layer of oil begins to separate from the mixture.
Add the rest of the coconut cream and let it bubbles away for another few minutes until the oil begins to separate again.
Add the whole cardamoms, cardamom leaves, whole shallots, peanuts, palm sugar, tamarind water, and fish sauce.
Mix the content of the two pot together, and continue to simmer until the beef is tender.
Be careful not to let the curry boil too vigorously at this stage as the coconut cream will curdle. Just let the pot simmer gently until the beef is tender.
Check the seasoning before turning of the stove. The taste should be spicy (not too hot, but very spicy), salty, sweet, with an ever so slightly sour aftertaste, in this order. Do not let it be cloyingly sweet.

Serve with freshly steamed Thai jasmine rice, or Naan bread.

*In Thailand, the first extraction with very little, if any, addition of water is called coconut cream (Hua Gati). This compares to sort of an extra virgin pressing of olive oil. The next extraction, with added water, is called coconut milk (Hang Gati). If you use canned coconut milk, just spooned off the thick "cream" part to separate from the milk.
*The paste will have to be used the same day if there's any water added. Otherwise it will keep for a few days in the fridge. It does not, however, freeze well.

P.S. Feel free to leave a comment should you have any question about this recipe or the ingredients. I'll be happy to help if I can.

If you find this recipe useful, please consider giving a few dollars to help my charity drive for Doctors without Borders by clicking on the picture below.


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