Spicy Thai Red Beef Curry

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Red Curry Paste:

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon roughly chopped lemongrass (from root end) 

1 teaspoon ground coriander 

1 teaspoon ground cumin 

1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste 

10 cloves garlic

8 medium red chiles, such as Fresno

4 small shallots, halved 

1 Sri Lankan (kaffir) lime leaf, torn into pieces (see Cook's Note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 


4 tablespoons canola oil

2 pounds flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain 

Kosher salt 

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced into strips 

1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips 

1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips 

Two 14-ounce cans coconut milk 

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth 

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh Thai basil

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint 

Juice of 2 limes


  1. For the red curry paste: In a food processor, combine the cilantro, oil, ginger, lemongrass, coriander, cumin, shrimp paste, garlic, red chiles, lime leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pulse to a consistent paste.
  2. For the curry: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring well, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pot and increase the heat to high. Sprinkle the flank steak with a pinch of salt, then add it to the pot; cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the steak and add the onions and peppers; cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, bring to a gentle boil, then add the curry paste back to the pot; stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. (If the coconut milk breaks and separates, don't worry: it will come back together to a smooth consistency.) Add the chicken broth and fish sauce, and continue simmering until the sauce has a nice, gravy-like consistency, 12 to 15 minutes. Return the beef to the pot and finish with the cilantro, basil, mint and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Cook’s Note

Sri Lankan lime leaves can be purchased online or in Asian food markets. If they cannot be sourced, a good substitute can be made from a combination of bay leaves, lime zest and lemon thyme. One small bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon lime zest and 1/4 teaspoon lemon thyme is the equivalent of one Sri Lankan lime leaf.