This Burmese beef curry is made with sirloin, ginger, coconut milk, chiles, turmeric, cilantro, and basil served over vermicelli rice noodles. Curry in a hurry.
A delicious Burmese beef curry that you can adapt to your taste. If you can’t take chiles, reduce the quantity or, if you love spiciness, increase the number of peppers; you can also add some crushed dried chiles as well. This recipe can be served with steamed rice, but I love Chinese vermicelli rice noodles.–Ching-He Huang
LC NOODLING AROUND WITH RICE NOODLES NOTE
Rice noodles come in all manner of widths. In most Chinatowns, you can find fresh, fat, folded rice noodles as wide as a man’s belt being sold on the sidewalk for as little as a dollar a bag. Those are lovely and squishy, although they’re intended for stir-fries and soups and aren’t quite right for this dish. Fortunately what is right for this dish far are the various dried rice noodles that are far more common and readily found in most local grocery stores. Rice noodles come in varying widths. What you want here is the very skinny vermicelli, which works swell in this sorta instance where you simply want to twirl the noodles on a fork before you scoop up some of the gravylike (in a good way) curry sauce. But go on, noodle around with some other sorts of rice noodles, and see what trips your fancy.
Burmese Beef Curry with Rice Noodles
For the paste
- 4 garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 fresh red chile peppers seeded and finely chopped
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 handful chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 handful chopped Thai basil leaves
For the beef
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 shallots peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
- One 12 1/2-ounce sirloin steak cubed
- 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
- 1 lemongrass stalk chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 5 1/2 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
Make the paste
- Blend all the paste ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle or in a small food processor.
Make the beef
- Heat a wok over high heat, add the oil and shallots and shrimp paste, and stir-fry for less than 1 minute. Add the paste and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the steak and stir fry until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk. (For a thinner sauce, you could also add a little chicken stock at this stage. For a creamier curry, you could add some coconut cream.) Add the lemongrass, the brown sugar, coriander, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and sprinkle with the cilantro and Thai basil.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and divvy them between 2 serving bowls. Ladle the curry over the noodles and serve immediately.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I love Ching-he Huang’s recipes as a rule. This one is different than some of her more delicate creations and contains a lot of fragrant ingredients that balance one another neatly, although during the cooking process I have to admit to having my doubts about the amounts used. I should, of course, have known better. The strong smell of the shrimp paste is soon lost in the mix of scents from the curry paste, and all the bold flavors are ultimately tempered by the coconut milk. The curry soaks into the rice noodles in a way that is very satisfing, although the thin consistency of the sauce makes using chopsticks a little hazardous. I think more texture would work really well and next time I’ll add something with crunch—baby sweet corn, broccoli, and snow peas come to mind. For those who like Thai and spicy food, get involved in this recipe. For those who don’t, exercise caution and adjust the amount of chili down, but give it a try!
Originally published May 05, 2004