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Massaman Beef Curry

Massaman tends to be associated with Northern Thai cuisine and although it can be hot, it tends to lean towards the use of the sweeter aromatics and I do this in our mix.

This Beef dish is a general recipe for your basic Massaman mix. As with all of my suggestions, they are just that, foundations for you to build upon and add your own stamp of individuality. If you and I have ever talked, you will know what I mean.

Ok, Ingredients.
This serves 4.
750 g of beef stewing steak cut into bit sized pieces (en morceaux, as my lovely friend Geraldine would teach me – did I mention I was learning French? A real challenge for me – c’est tres difficile!)

Anyway, I digress.

2 tbsp of Massaman mix (Suffolk Spice Company mix preferably, but I am not offended if you make your own!)
1 large waxy potato, peeled and diced (1 inch pieces)
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk. Do not shake the tin! We want to use the coconut cream that has risen to the top first in this dish and then use the rest later. Also, use decent quality stuff if you can manage it, you can tell the difference.
250ml of chicken stock – make your own if you can, it is so much more satisfying to do than use shop bought but as I said, I am not precious about it’s your dish after all and if a stock pot or cube is what you have then that is absolutely fine, go for it.
2 tsp light brown sugar
100g of unsalted roasted cashew nuts (optional) – I like the texture and the sweetness they bring to the dish but they are not vital and of course, nuts are not for everyone.
2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

Method – this is beginning to look like science homework from the 1980’s

First prep the meat. This is worth doing properly so as to avoid fatty, chewy bits in your curry. A good local butcher will supply quality product, as too will many of my friends on the farmers markets around Suffolk. Don’t go to Norfolk, they are a funny bunch up there, I ought to know I went to school there!
What was I talking about?
Oh yes, dry the meat on kitchen paper and check for unwanted bits.

Put the en morceaux beef in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the massaman mix. Stir well and leave for at least 30 minutes. A couple of hours is better, over night would be good but 30 minutes is fine.
When ready, on a medium heat, pan fry the meat in the oil in batches in a heavy bottomed saucepan or casserole. Do not crowd the pan, you want the meat to brown, not boil. Too much meat at once gives a watery cooking environment, this is beef not salmon!
Stir the meat regularly but not constantly, you need the surface of the meat to come into contact with the pan long enough to caramelise but not burn (or stick!)
Transfer the browned beef to a plate as it is done.
Once all the meat is browned, in the same pan that now has all the juicy sticky bits in it, add the rest of the Massaman mix, stir quickly for 5 seconds and then add 2 good spoons full of the coconut cream from the top of your tin (so long as you didn’t shake the tin!, you did, didn’t you? No? well done. It doesn’t actually matter if you did, its just that the sauce will take a little longer to develop that’s all – next time read the instructions! )

Stir around the mixture for 60 seconds and get a lovely thick creamy rich paste. Now return the beef to the pan with any resting juices that have been released. Add the potato, the rest of the coconut milk (cream and water) the chicken stock, the sugar and the cashews (if using).
Stir it all around well and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally until the beef becomes tender.
Uncover and simmer for a further 30 minutes or so or until the sauce has thicken to your liking and the beef is falling apart tender.
Serve immediately with fluffy pilau rice and homemade naan.

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