Weekly Winner: Way Beyond Basic Basil Beef

Yes, I’m still obsessed with my new cookbook 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die by Jet Tila. This is the very first thing I made out of the book but the second one I’ve written about. I thought starting with Spicy Basil Beef would be the perfect place to start because it’s a dish I’m familiar with and I had all the necessary ingredients.

I have probably made four or five versions of this dish before, but no more. I have now found the definitive recipe. I can now throw all of those away. While the other versions were all perfectly fine and some were even darn tasty, this new riff blows all others out of the water.

This dish is quick, easy and ultimately satisfying. You can also temper the spice level by simply altering the amount of chili paste and Thai chiles (or serrano) that you use.

Spicy Basil Beef (Pad Krapow)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp sweet soy sauce

2 Tbsp oyster sauce

4 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp chili paste in soybean oil

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-3 serrano or Thai chilies, sliced

3 cups lean ground beef

1 medium onion, sliced

1 small red bell pepper, sliced

1-1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, picked off the stem

1/2 tsp white pepper

Procedure:

  • Combine the sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and chili paste in a small bowl and reserve.
  • Heat your wok or large skillet over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When wisps of white smoke appear, add the garlic and chilies. Cook them until the garlic starts to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the ground beef, flatten against the pan and cook undisturbed for about 45 seconds. The beef will start to brown; turn over once, press flat against the pan and cook for another 30 seconds. Break up the meat into gravel-sized pieces and drain any excess liquid.
  • Stir in the onion and bell pepper and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the reserved sauce to the wok and combine the ingredients thoroughly for about 1 minute. Add the Thai basil and cook until the beef is thoroughly cooked and onions are slightly tender. Finish with white pepper.

Weekly Winner: The Best Thing I Have Made – Period.

Let me be clear: This isn’t the best noodle dish I’ve ever made. Nor is it the best beef dish, curry dish, or Thai dish. I truly believe this is the best thing that I have created in my kitchen. Period.

Santa (aka Hubby) was good to me this Christmas and luckily ignored my numerous declarations that I was forbidden to get another cookbook for at least a year — maybe five! No matter how much I whine, beg or plead. Yeah, well he knows I don’t mean it when talking about a few of my “chef crushes”. Hence I am now the proud owner of Jet Tila’s 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die . And thanks to my new acquisition, on New Year’s Eve created the best dish I’ve made so far, Khao Soi – Northern Curry Braised Beef Noodles.

Seriously, this is a magical dish. The mix of the luscious coconut sauce, the unbelievable braised short ribs, soft noodles, and pungent kimchi (I could not find the pickled mustard greens so used kimchi) left me and hubby literally speechless as we tucked into our bowls. Jet recommends using his braised short rib recipe and the stock used in that for this dish which I did and think you should too. That’s why I’ve included both recipes here.

I’m guessing you can also expect the next several Weekly Winners to come from this book. I’ve got about 20 pages marked so far …. that will only leave me 79 more to go after that!!

Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp cracked pepper

4 lb beef short ribs

1/4 cup butter, divided

2 shallots, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 lb onion, cut into large dice

1/4 lb carrot, cut into large dice

1/4 lb celery, cut into large dice

1 750-ml bottle dry red wine

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 sprig flat-leaf parsley

4 cups beef broth

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F
  2. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Dredge the beef in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess; set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter in a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven over high heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides, about 10 minutes
  3. Melt another 2 Tbsp butter in the pan. Stir in the shallots, garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Cook and stir until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and reduce it by half. Stir in the thyme, bay leaf, parsley and beef broth. Place the browned short ribs on top of the vegetables in a single layer, and then bring it to a boil.
  4. Cover it with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil, then bake in the preheated oven until the short ribs are very tender and nearly falling off the bone, about 3 to 3-1/2 hour’s. Once the short ribs are tender, strip meat off the bone with a fork, cover and keep warm.

Khao Soi Northern Curry Braised Beef Noodles

Ingredients:

4 cups coconut milk, separating the top 3 Tbsp of cream

2 Tbsp yellow curry paste

2 Tbsp masamun curry paste

2 kaffir lime leaves, cut into a fine chiffonade

1/2 cup rich beef stock (from short ribs)

2 tsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp tamarind paste

1tsp sugar

1 lb Braised Short Ribs

1/2 lb fresh flat egg noodles, boiled until al dente

1/2 cup Chinese pickled mustard greens, drained and sliced thin ( I used kimchi)

1/2 cup shallots, peeled and cut in small dice

4 scallions, sliced on the bias

Procedure:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tbsp of the thick coconut cream on high for about 1 minute. When the cream starts to sizzle, stir in the curry pastes like building a roux, and add the lime leaves. Stir-fry the paste for about 1 minute, until the pasts start to thicken, dry out, and become fragrant. If the curry starts to sputter, add a small amount of coconut milk to keep the paste moving. Stir in the remaining coconut milk into the curry paste. Increase the heat to high until you reach a full rolling boil. Allow the curry to boil for about 5 to 10 minutes or until it reduces by about a quarter or coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Reduce the sauce to a simmer add the rich beef stock, fish sauce, tamarind and sugar. Taste and adjust as necessary. Add the short rib meat at the last possible moment before serving; it will only take about a minute for the meat to warm and absorb the luscious curry broth.
  3. Divide the noodles into 4 bowls. Ladle about 6 to 8 ounces of the rich broth over each noodle bowl, and make sure each bowl gets a few slices of beef. Garnish with mustard greens (kimchi), shallots and scallions.