Bowl of Beef Red Curry with Bamboo
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Beef & Bamboo Red Curry

4 main  
1 hr  
This is a very typical Thai Beef Red Curry. It is simple, satiisfying, and not difficult to make. It can be varied to taste, see Comments. It reheats well, though the basil leaves will be rather dark.


Beef (1)
Bamboo Shoots (2)
Thai Basil Leaf
Kaffir Lime Leaves (3)
Coconut Milk (4)
Red Curry Paste (5)  
Fish Sauce (6)
Palm Sugar (7)
Prep   -   (30 min)
  1. Slice Beef about 1/4 inch thick and cut slices into bite size strips about 1/2 inch wide.
  2. Slice BAMBOO SHOOTS about 1/8 inch thick and cut to a size similar to the Beef.
  3. Remove BASIL LEAVES from stems, and start them soaking in cold water. This will help keep them green when added to the curry.
  4. Roll LIME LEAVES up (end to end) as tight as you can. Slice these rolls into threads as fine as you can cut them. Discard the central stem and make a few cuts through the threads to shorten them. Mix with Chilis.
  5. Open COCONUT MILK without shaking. Scoop about 6 ounces off the top, including all the cream. Hold separate from the rest of the Coconut Milk.
Run   -   (30 min)
  1. In a sauté pan or wok, place the Coconut Cream part of the Coconut milk. Bring to a boil (carefully), then stir in Curry Paste until evenly distributed. Keep at a strong simmer over moderate heat, stirring continuously and scraping the pan until oil starts to separate.
  2. Stir in Beef. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often for about 5 minutes until you again see red oil starting to separate.
  3. Slowly stir in remaining Coconut Milk and Water. Bring to a boil, then stir in Bamboo Shoots. Bring back to a boil and stir in Fish Sauce, Palm Sugar and Lime Leaves. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until Beef is tender, covered or uncovered as needed to get the sauce right. It should be quite liquid, but not overwhelming. This recipe can be held warm for a while at this point if needed.
  4. When ready to serve - bring to a simmer. Drain Basil Leaves and stir in well. Serve immediately with plenty of steamed Jasmine rice.
  1. Beef:   Weight is boneless with any excess fat removed. Cooking is short, so use a reasonably tender cut such shoulder rather than round.
  2. Bamboo Shoots:   Fresh is best, but a hassle and not always available. Best to buy in vacuum pack bags (unless your market has them in a bulk tub). Canned is available everywhere, but needs to be par boiled for 5 minutes or more to remove the metallic taste.
  3. Kaffir Lime Leaves:   These come 2 to a stem, so this recipe requires 2 stems. For details see our Kaffir Lime page. If you don't have them, grate the zest of a large lime (green only).
  4. Coconut Milk:   Unsweetened. Coconut milk from Thailand is excellent. I use Aroy-D, but there are other fine brands. A good quality Coconut Milk will have lots of heavy cream at the top. Check the recipe - you may need to avoid shaking the can before opening.
  5. Curry Paste, Red:   You can buy commercially made Thai Red Curry Paste, even at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, but it is better made at home - see our recipe Red Curry Paste. Our recipe is probably a little hotter than most commercial versions, but some of those are so salty you may have to cut back on the Fish Sauce.
  6. Fish Sauce:   This clear liquid is as essential to Southeast Asian cuisine as it was to Imperial Rome. If you are unfamiliar with it, see our Fish Sauce - Introduction page.
  7. Palm Sugar   This is available in pretty much all Southeast and East Asian markets. I buy it in lumps of about 1 Tablespoon each. If you don't have it, use a lightly refines sugar such as Turbinado.
  8. Comments   Hotness will depend on what red curry paste is used and how much. 2 T made by our recipe makes this dish "satisfying hot" by Southern California standards (but rather mild by Thai standards). Use your own best judgement. One writer, remembering the Beef Red Curry served in her boarding school when she was a child, used ground beef, as they would in such an institution, and left out the Kaffir Lime and Basil.
  9. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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