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red curry beef finished

Thai Red Curry Beef

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Thai




  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 113.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 5 tablespoons homemade or canned red curry paste (use less if you like less spice)

For the Beef:

  • 3 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 pound sirloin trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces (you can also use skirt steak or rib eye)
  • 1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 6 oz wild mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, or any combination)
  • 3 oz baby spinach
  • 1 Chinese eggplant
  • 1 red pepper
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves 
  • 1 small handful Thai basil leaves (you can substitute Italian basil)

Red Curry Paste:

  • 20 pieces dried red de arbol chiles 
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced very fine galangal
  • 8 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds or ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro stems chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp (you can substitute 1 tablespoon miso for vegetarians or leave it out)
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass outer hard leaves removed, the bottom trimmed and the top half discarded, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ cup oil


Make the Red Curry Paste:

  1. Cover dried chilis and the dried shrimp with 2 cups of hot water and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the soaking liquid.
  2. If using whole coriander seeds, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes, moving the pan around to avoid burning the seeds. Add the cumin powder in the last couple of seconds to bring out the oils and flavor in the spices.
  3. Remove the center rib from the back of the kaffir lime leaves and set aside.
  4. Put the chilis and dried shrimp with ¼ cup soaking water, galangal, garlic, coriander seeds, lemongrass, cilantro stems, shallot, ground cumin, kaffir lime leaves, and ground white pepper into a blender. 
  5. Turn the blender on low and then slowly add the oil through the center opening. 
  6. Turn the blender on high and blend for 1 minute until smooth. 
  7. Keeps 2 weeks in the fridge or frozen. 

Make the Sauce:

  1. In a medium bowl mix the fish sauce, the red curry paste (reserve leftovers for another recipe or add more if you like your food spicier), light brown sugar, and coconut milk. Set aside.

Prep the Veggies:

  1. Shave off the hard stem on the back of the kaffir lime leaves. Stack and roll the leaves tightly like a cigar. Then very finely slice the leaves and set them aside. 
  2. Cut the eggplant into thick rounds about 1 inch thick. Set aside.
  3. Cut the pepper in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Then cut the pepper into a large dice. Set aside.
  4. Wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Remove and discard the woody stem if using shiitakes. Cut the mushrooms in half or into thick slices if they are very large

Cook the Curry:

  1. Heat a large pan over high heat. Add 1 ½ tablespoons oil and the beef, spreading it out on the pan in one layer. 
  2. Sear the beef on one side, 30 seconds to 1 minute and then flip the meat and stir- fry for a couple more seconds. Set the meat aside in a bowl (the meat will finish cooking in the sauce). 
  3. Add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of oil plus the onions to the pan and continue to cook for 2-3 mins. until the onions have started to soften. Add the mushrooms, peppers, and eggplant. Stir to combine and continue cooking for a minute.
  4. Add the sauce, and the kaffir lime leaves to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium, partially cover with a lid, and cook for 6-7 mins. until the sauce has reduced slightly and the eggplant is tender. Add the meat and the spinach and stir the mixture. Cook for one more minute to wilt the spinach and finish cooking the meat. Serve immediately.



*This dish has a good amount of heat which is offset by the sweetness of the sugar and richness of the coconut milk. You can adjust the heat by adding less of the red curry paste. 

*If you are making the curry paste from scratch, take a small taste of the soaked chilies to get a sense of how hot they are before adding them to the paste. You can put in less if you find the heat overwhelming. Keep in mind that the flavor will be diluted in the paste and then again in the sauce.

*It is traditional to use cilantro roots in the curry paste but they can be extremely difficult to find in the US. However, if you can find cilantro with the roots, definitely use them instead. Make sure you wash the roots well to remove any clinging soil. Use 1 tablespoon of minced roots instead of the cilantro stems.

*You will only be using about ⅓ of the curry paste in the sauce. It is very difficult to make curry paste in a small amount when using the blender or food processor. Any extra paste can be frozen until you are ready to make more curry. It can also be used in marinades or as a flavoring in soups or stews.