So… Hear me out on this one?
You probably have questions, such as, “How did you get from Point A to beet curry with dill, nutjob?” Did I finally dig myself out of a New Year’s Eve mess of half-empty Boones Farm bottles, neon wristbands, and a hefty dose of shame, zombie-shuffle into my kitchen, throw together whatever was in there and take pictures to share with you, still convinced that it was a good idea?
I appreciate that you might think I party that hard, but no.
This is clear-eyed, well-rested, coherent as you-know-what food. How I got here has more to do with my intense love of beets and the use of dill in Southeast Asian cuisine, which is not unheard of, coming together and making uncomfortable small talk for a few minutes before they decide they will be kept apart no longer.
So, no, it’s not authentic, but it made sense in my head, it made sense in my mouth (as in, tasted outrageously good), and I thought you might be game, too. It’s 2015. Let’s get weird!
The sauce is just your standard yellow curry: flavorful and awesome in every way. I actually found kaffir limes recently, which are the wrinkled green orbs you see above. They’re not necessary by any means, and the zest imparts pretty much what the leaves do. If you can’t find either, the standard substitute is bay leaf, which is not the same at all (woodsy, not exactly citrus-fresh and fragrant) but still nice. Now that I think about it, it would make more sense with the beets here, but sometimes I don’t think the right things at the right time, and my brain is too busy holding up little green fruit up to the heavens like they’re Simba.
For the substance of the dish itself, if you can’t find golden beets, I suppose red ones will work too. I just wasn’t ready to bring you bright pink, coconut-based, Thai-style curry. I have limits, or something like that. If you go that route, I admire and salute you; please send me a picture. In either case, using the beet greens is a delicious, non-wasteful move. As for the beef, it is most definitely skippable to make this dish vegetarian/vegan, depending on how you interpret or substitute fish sauce.
In short, do what feels right. Your year, your curry, your rules.
I’m just going to be over here, writing “always remember to clean up inside-the-bowl smudges” on my 2015 resolutions list. It doesn’t exist so… That might be challenging. Who has a spare napkin from Chili’s?
Again, happy 2015 to you. I’d say I hope it brings you great things, and that’s true, but I have a feeling it will be even better if we go make great things happen instead. Ask not what the new year can bring for you; ask what you can bring (foodwise or not) to the massive potluck (food-related or not) we’re all embarking on for the next 360something days. That kind of thing. I’m going to do my best to bring good things to 2015 — and I hope this is a good start. Eat/drink/be well, lovenuggets!
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 1-2 red Thai chiles or serrano peppers, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1-inch piece galangal or ginger, minced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- A grating of fresh nutmeg
- 2 pounds golden beets (and their greens, if available)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, to soak beets (optional)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
- 1 pound cubed stew beef
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
- 1-2 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves (may substitute bay leaf and/or grating of kaffir lime zest, if you happen to have it)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, pale part only, sliced in half lengthwise
- A handful fresh dill, to finish
- To make curry sauce, process all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
- To make your curry, first prep the beets by peeling them and cutting them into large chunks. Golden beets oxidize (turn black) if you don't work quickly enough, so you may want to keep the cut chunks in a bowl of ice water with lemon juice while you prep. Strip the leaves of the beets (if yours came with them), wash, drain, coarsely chop, and set them aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat up the oil until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Add the beef and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or so. Add the curry sauce as well as the beets (not the greens, though), bell pepper, kaffir lime leaves/zest, and lemongrass. Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat, cover, and cook until beets and meat are tender and cooked through 40-45 minutes. Stir in the beet greens, if using, and cook a minute or two, just until wilted.
- Serve curry over jasmine rice, finished with a sprinkling of fresh dill.