This Thai Curried Ramen Bowl with Ground Beef, Beech Mushrooms and Veggies is easy, fast and bursting at the seams with delicious flavor. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
Weird blogger confession: you can make this dish with rice, rice noodles, or probably just about any kind of wheat-based noodle. So why did I choose ramen (aside from its general trendiness)? It is just so darn photogenic! Which probably led, in part on blogs anyway, to its general trendiness. Those curly noodles are so cute! Don’t get me wrong, I promise the dish is delicious–my rice-loving husband liked them so much that when we ran out the next night he used traditional angel hair instead. But I definitely chose them because they take a good picture.
You can file that under things I would have never thought about before becoming a blogger.
This dish is inspired by traditional Thai cuisine but it is not traditional. I want to make that clear. I am sure I am being over-fussy, but it kind of bugs me when I see “Thai” dishes that are not Thai. This dish was inspired by 4 different dishes: non-traditional ramen noodle bowls, Chiang Mai Curry (Khao Soi–which I have made but is not on the blog), and Thai Yellow Curry, and Kwaytiow Sen Yai Neua Sub, a Thai noodle dish that I made a bazillion years ago from Victor Sodsook’s True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking. So yeah I had a lot of ideas in my head when I was making it.
I started this meal at 4:40 pm–with frozen solid ground beef–and had dinner on the table at 6 pm. So I rate this as a quick win–especially if you start, ahem, with thawed ground beef. I think I wasted like 20-30 minutes trying to thaw and then brown semi-frozen ground beef. Same with the beef stock, which I got out of the freezer in the middle of cooking dinner (because that is when it occurred to me it would work well in it). So do as I say, not as I did!
Commercial yellow curry paste is the one Thai curry paste that is not super spicy. Having said that, I call for a lot of it, so it did result in a pleasantly spicy dish (to me–John needed more heat and the kids needed more coconut cream and Kecap Manis to calm the heat down). If heat is a problem for you, try maybe 1/3 cup of curry paste and more mild curry powder. I would hesitate to do much less curry paste than that. As always, if heat is a serious problem for you I recommend making homemade yellow curry paste. I deliberately used commercial paste for this dish in the hopes that my readers would be able to use it as well.
And the verdict? Big, big success. The kids ate it while complaining of the heat so you know they liked it, and John went crazy for it. Me? Well editing the pictures drove me nuts if that tells you anything. Made me crave it all over again! I am imagining other versions I might try with other curry pastes as well as other spices and seasoning.
- 1-2 T extra virgin coconut oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 med-large onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup yellow curry paste* (less with more curry powder if you have heat tolerance issues)
- 1 t mild curry powder
- 10-12 oz beech mushrooms, chopped
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 medium zucchini, seeds scraped out and cut into half-moons
- 2 sweet bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
- 6 cups good beef stock (preferably homemade, definitely low sodium)
- 19 oz canned thick coconut milk (Mae Ploy* is recommended and comes in that size)
- 3-4 T fish sauce, * to taste
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup packed Thai basil leaves
- 18 oz chūka soba* (ramen noodles--if you have to just buy the instant noodles and discard the seasoning), cooked according to package directions in salted boiling water
- for garnish: coconut cream, Kecap Manis*, Sriracha*
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil until melted and shimmering in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until golden brown and aromatic. Then add the onions with a small pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, until translucent, and add a little more coconut oil and the yellow curry paste. Stir, breaking up the paste, and incorporate the paste into the onions evenly. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
Add the curry powder and the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Stir, cooking, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their water.
Add the ground beef with a small pinch of salt, and break it up and stir it into the dish to brown it and coat it with curry paste and coconut oil. When it has browned, add the zucchini, bell peppers, beef stock, coconut milk, 3 tablespoons fish sauce and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
Taste for more fish sauce. Add the basil leaves, reserving a few for garnish if serving to guests or photographing. Drizzle with Kecap Manis, whisked coconut cream, and Sriracha (the last 2 are optional--but do not skip the Kecap Manis!).
*The following are affiliate links and only provided in case you are unfamiliar with various Asian ingredients and want to purchase them on Amazon:
Any coconut milk will work ultimately, but I used Mae Ploy, which is definitely richer than others:
Kecap Manis is a rich, thick, very sweet soy sauce used in SE Asia. it is absolutely delicious and really changes this dish so I highly recommend it:
Am guessing Sriracha needs no introduction, but in case you are not familiar with the slightly sweet SE Asian hot sauce:
Make sure you use a good fish sauce; Red Boat is my current favorite, although a bit pricey:
(This one is not an affiliate link:) For the noodles, I searched constantly for “plain” ramen noodles, and could never find them. I finally figured out that is because they are not marketed as ramen noodles. Ramen noodles are sold with seasoning (as far as I can tell where I am anyway). For the noodles that you use to make your own ramen, look for chūka soba, which basically means Chinese style wheat noodle (I think!). The kind I bought is sold at this China greensource site, but I have no particular experience with this site. If nothing else it will show you what the package looked like. I found it in Jungle Jim’s. If you search under chūka soba at Amazon they definitely have some to choose from, but I cannot vouch for any of them.
I highly recommend you skip the more common Thai curry pastes that are available in regular grocery stores and make a trip (or mail order) to your local Asian grocer to look for Mae Ploy curry pastes. Or Maesri. Anything that is sold in a store where Asians shop. Mae Ploy is my favorite.