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Burmese Beef Curry with Rice Noodles

An orange tablecloth with a white and gold pattern filled with rice vermicelli, Burmese beef curry and red chopsticks.
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.
Ching-He Huang

Prep 20 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 30 mins
2 servings
1056 kcal


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

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, 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.


*How do I chop lemongrass?

Lemongrass is used extensively in Asian cooking, particularly in Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. If you're not terribly familiar with it, you might have some trepidation about getting it ready to use. 
First, you need to remove any tough outer leaves, chop off the white bulb, and discard those bits. Next, slice rings until you hit the fibrous, tough part--about 2/3 of the way up. Those upper pieces, by the way, can be bruised (just bend them until they're fragrant and softened) and added to a simmering broth to add some extra flavor--just don't eat 'em. They're awfully tough.
Now start chopping those rings. Or toss them into a food processor. Or smash them with a mortar and pestle. Just keep at it until you have something that looks more like flakes, rather than fibrous rings. Anything leftover can be put in a plastic zipper bag and chuck into the freezer, where they'll be ready for next time.