It is funny, the way you can raise 2 kids close to the same (although of course not identically) and have them turn out so differently. I may have mentioned Sammy is my sensitive one where Alex is more prosaic. Well we have finally had a fish death. The fish, as you may remember, belong to Alex. Noir, the black Molly, is dead, and Spotty, the spotted Molly, is missing. (Ugh, I keep wondering if the other fish ate him! But he was big! But he is nowhere to be found which is just so disturbing on so many different levels…) Anyway, Alex was sad, but very calm and accepting about it. We did not have any kind of ceremony and we just flushed Noir down the toilet. Fast forward to the next day when Sammy unfortunately revealed that the black Molly was her favorite fish in Alex’s tank.
Picture me wincing. Picture Sammy sobbing. Alas. The funny thing is, I was much more like Alex as a child but now I relate more to Sammy. I also agreed with Sammy that the Mollies were my favorites–but since both Mollies died I am of course left wondering if something about the other fish or this tank was not suitable for the Mollies. Sigh. And of course Spotty is still missing. It sounds like something from a bad Encyclopedia Brown novel!
Another thing Sammy and Alex react pretty differently to is coconut milk. I have no idea why–Sammy ate plenty of curries when she was really little. But then one day, a year or so ago, she suddenly could detect coconut in anything and hated it. And all of its forms too–flaked coconut, shredded coconut, extra virgin coconut oil and coconut milk. All of them. Which is a problem in this family. My compromise is I don’t make her eat it multiple nights in a row, but as you can imagine I am not going to stop making coconut milk curries.
This particular curry was inspired by a Thai Laksa I came across while browsing David Thompson’s absolutely gorgeous Thai Street Food. I was surprised to see it, as up until now I have only come across laksas in Malaysian and Indonesian cookbooks, and the Malaysian and Indonesian versions inevitably have a few ingredients I have trouble getting, like candlenuts. So even though I have drooled over many laksa recipes I have never made one. When I saw David Thompson’s I was excited because I can get all of those ingredients. I bookmarked it for the future, but I also took note of his comment in the headnotes that although he does not approve of it, many cooks in Bangkok will cheat by using a red curry paste plus curry powder. A-ha! Some homemade red curry paste from the freezer, some homemade garam masala from the spice drawer, some leaves from my Makrut lime tree, and I had something interesting going on. David Thompson might not approve, but I won’t call it laksa (which I think usually has seafood anyway) and instead I will just tell you it was seriously tasty! Alex especially went crazy for it!
- 6 meaty beef short ribs
- 1 T extra virgin coconut oil
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup red curry paste
- 1 med onion, chopped
- 1 t garam masala, to taste
- 1 t curry powder
- 19 oz coconut milk
- 6-7 cups beef stock (can sub with chicken stock if need be)
- 1 lb sliced button mushrooms
- 10 small peeled shallots
- 2 medium-large tomatoes chopped
- 1 (full leaf--which is actually 2 leaves, attached) kaffir lime leaf, middle stem removed-when you remove the stem, it will be in 4 pieces
- 1-2 T brown sugar
- ¼ cup fish sauce, to taste
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 3 green onions, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven. When it is shimmering, add the short ribs, 3 at a time. Brown them on all sides--be patient and get a really nice crust.
- Remove the short ribs to a large bowl and set aside. Drain off all but about a tablespoon of rendered fat and coconut oil. Add the red curry paste and stir it into the oil, letting it fry. When the oil begins to separate, add the chopped onion and stir. Keep stirring occasionally, while you caramelize the onions until golden.
- When the onions are golden, add the garam masala and curry powder. Stir to roast briefly, about a minute, and then add the coconut milk, beef stock, mushrooms and shallots. Stir in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and the kaffir lime leaves. Place the short ribs, with their juices, into the pot, submerging them into the liquid. Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes over the short ribs.
- Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Then cover with a tight fitting, heavy lid and place in the oven. Let cook for 3 hours.
- Check the meat to see how done it is. If it is the way you want it--I like it falling off the bone, reduce the heat to 250 F and let it just sit in the warm oven. Otherwise, let it cook more. 3-4 hours is perfect in my experience.
- Before serving, taste for more fish sauce, brown sugar and garam masala. Sprinkle with a good amount of chopped cilantro and green onions and serve with Jasmine rice.