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Green Curry with Braised Beef Shank

Green Curry with Braised Beef Shank Recipe (Gaeng Kiew Waan Neua) - Green curry gets its unique flavour from fiery green bird’s eye chilies, which can also make it incredibly spicy. Any meat can be paired with any curry, but in Thailand certain combinations are more popular than others; for green curry, the usual pairings are beef, chicken, and, for some odd reason, fish cakes. I’ve chosen a tough cut of beef in this recipe to demonstrate how you can incorporate braising into your curry making, and it doesn’t hurt that braising a tendon-rich beef shank yields a marvellously strong stock that further enriches the curry sauce.

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 2 hours + 30 minutes if making the curry paste
Special Tools: Heavy-duty mortar and pestle, or another device for making curry paste
Do-ahead Tips: Make the curry paste and braise the beef 1–2 days in advance. Or make the entire dish in advance, leaving the basil out until ready to serve.

Gaeng = Curry; Kiew = Green; Waan = Sweet; Neua = Beef
Green Curry with Braised Beef Shank Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Boneless beef shank, bite-sized, ½-inch thick slices
  • 2 cups Coconut milk
  • 1 recipe Green curry paste or 5 Tbsp store-bought
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2½–3 cups Water
  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves, torn into chunks
  • 3 Tbsp Palm sugar, finely chopped, packed
  • 1–2 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 2 cups Bamboo shoots, julienned (see note)
  • 1 Spur chili or ¼ red bell pepper, julienned
  • ¾ cup Thai basil leaves
  • For serving Jasmine rice or rice vermicelli

How to make Green Curry with Braised Beef Shank

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add the beef, ¼ cup of the coconut milk, 1 Tbsp of the curry paste, and salt. Add enough of the water to completely cover the beef and bring to a simmer. Braise the beef, loosely covered, for 1½–2 hours, or until the beef is fork tender. Add more water if needed to ensure that the beef stays submerged.
  2. Remove the beef using a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve 1½ cups of the cooking liquid; if there isn’t enough, add more water to make up the difference.
  3. Reduce ¾ cup of the coconut milk in a medium-sized pot over medium heat until very thick and the clear coconut oil starts to separate from the white portion, 10–15 minutes. (If this separation doesn’t happen, just proceed with the recipe after reducing until thick—sometimes coconut milk is processed to prevent separation. See this page for more information.)
  4. Add the curry paste to the reduced coconut milk and cook over medium-low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the curry paste is very thick. Add the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk and stir to mix. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the reserved beef cooking liquid, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, and 1 Tbsp of the fish sauce; bring to a boil.
  5. When the curry boils, add the cooked beef and bamboo shoots; simmer for 3–4 minutes so they absorb the curry. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust seasoning with the remaining fish sauce. Stir in the spur chilies and Thai basil.
  6. Garnish the curry with the top of a Thai basil sprig and serve with jasmine rice. It’s also common to pour green curry over rice vermicelli, pasta-style, for a one-dish meal.

Note: Use pre-cooked bamboo shoots, which are available in cans or vacuum-packed plastic bags.

Tip for Success: Remember that the rice will soften the curry’s flavour when they are eaten together, so make sure the curry is strongly seasoned.

Green Curry Paste

  • 2 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp White peppercorns
  • 15 Green Thai chilies (see note)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 15 Thai basil leaves, finely julienned (see note)
  • 3 Tbsp Lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Galangal, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Kaffir lime zest, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Cilantro roots or 2 Tbsp cilantro stems, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Shrimp paste (gapi)

How to make Green Curry Paste

  1. Toast the coriander seeds by adding them to a dry sauté pan and stirring constantly over medium-high heat until the seeds are aromatic and slightly darkened, about 4 minutes. Cool on a plate. Repeat with the cumin seeds.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the toasted coriander seeds, toasted cumin seeds, and white peppercorns into a fine powder. Remove from the mortar and set aside.
  3. Cut 8 of the green Thai chilies in half horizontally and, with a paring knife, scrape off and discard the seeds and pith, then finely chop along with the remaining chilies. Note: The seeds and pith are removed from some of the chilies to tone down the heat.
  4. Add the chopped chilies and salt to a heavy-duty mortar and pestle; pound into a fine paste. If the mixture feels too wet at any point, add some of the ground spices to absorb the liquid.
  5. Add the basil leaves; pound into a fine paste.
  6. Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, and cilantro roots; pound into a fine paste.
  7. Add the shallots, garlic, and any remaining ground spices; pound into a fine paste.
  8. Add the shrimp paste and pound to mix.

Note: The green colour comes primarily from the chilies, but to intensify the colour without the heat, we can add some green leaves. I’m using Thai basil because we have it for the curry anyway, but you can use other green leaves, such as spinach.

THE METHOD TO THE MADNESS
Why not just braise the beef in the curry sauce? If we simmered the beef in the curry, the vibrant green colour would start to fade and turn yellow from prolonged heat exposure. We work around this by braising the beef separately in a flavoured liquid, and since beef shank is full of tendons, the cooking liquid becomes a wonderfully rich beef stock that helps add body and flavour to our final product.

THE BREAKDOWN
The Paste Green curry paste
The Liquid Coconut milk and beef cooking liquid
The Nuggets Beef shank, bamboo shoots, Thai basil, spur chili
The Seasoning Fish sauce, salt, palm sugar
Flavour Profile Spicy and salty, balanced with subtle sweetness. Creamy mouthfeel, but should not be thick or viscous.