Beef and Cauliflower cooked in coconut milk is an exceptional dish that is made using beef short ribs, cauliflower spiced with red curry paste, cayenne, and peppers flavored with bay leaf, star anise and sweet basil. This recipe is a classic American dish inspired from Indian, Thai beef red curry dish. Red curry paste is generally used for Thai curries including Chicken, seafood, beef and vegetarian curries. A dollop of this paste enhances the flavor and color of the dish.
A good beef curry depends mainly in the simple and aromatic ingredients that are added along with a nice luscious stock or water to make thick consistency delicious gravy. The great thing about making your own curry is that you can control the amount of spices and customize them to your choice and liking. This recipe makes an appetizing dish that goes great with naan, bread or rice.
Coconut milk is one of the main ingredients for making the base of the soup or curry which gives an incredible taste, flavor and texture to the dish. It keeps the curry rich and creamy. Coconut milk is a common ingredient used mostly in Thai and Southern Indian curries. Few of the very popular Asian dishes cooked with coconut milk are Fish Moilee (a popular Kerala style fish cooked in coconut milk and spices), Coconut Milk rasam, Coconut corn curry, Thai Chicken curry and Srilankan Eggplant curry etc.
Contrary to western ideas of working with cream, to make the curry sauce, coconut cream is first reduced over fairly high heat to break down the cream and allow the oil to separate. The curry paste is then added and fried in the coconut oil until all the herb and spice flavors are released and blended before the rest of the coconut milk is added to make the sauce. Finished Thai curries will have a thin layer of oil floating on top of the sauce. This oil picks up the color of the curries – bright red for red curry, glistening green for green curry, and so on – giving them a lovely appearance rather than a dull, whitish sameness. The color serves as a reminder of their true nature – spicy hot from red and green chillies and not creamy and bland.
In a baking tray, place an aluminum foil and put in the 4 pounds of beef short ribs pieces and season the pieces sprinkle over with salt, cayenne and pepper to taste, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp vegetable oil. Coat the pieces well. Braise this in the oven at 400 degree F for about 20 minutes or until they get browned.
In a sauce pan (choose a pan which can fit in the oven), add little vegetable oil and heat over medium high, add 1 chopped onion and stir. Add 1 tsp red curry paste to taste 2 tablespoon tomato paste and stir both the onion and the curry paste well. Do not brown it. Cook until the onions are translucent just for about 3 minutes. Add 4 to 6 cloves garlic and toss well. To this add 1 cup coconut milk and stir well, add 2 cups chicken broth or any stock, 1 teaspoon fish sauce (to taste, gives nice salty flavor) or soy sauce, 2 fresh bay leaves, 1 star anise. Simmer the heat and add in the browned beef short ribs in the stock. Remove from heat and braise this in a hot oven for 300 degree for 3 hours.
After the meat gets fork tender or soft, remove the meat and keep aside. Boil the sauce and skim off the extra oil add floats on the surface. Add in 1 head cauliflower (bite size), cover and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add the beef short ribs (without bones) and simmer garnishing with 4 freshly chopped green onions and 1 cup chopped sweet basil or Thai basil. Finally put off the heat and check for seasoning before serving.
Tip: Before serving, always do a taste test. If not salty or flavorful enough, add more fish sauce or salt. If too salty, add another squeeze of lime juice. If too sour, add a little more sugar. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. If you’ve run out of coconut milk, add a little yogurt, sour cream, or cream.
This of course is a marvelous beef stew braised with some soul warming magic combined with exotic spices from the cuisines of Asia. If you have never tried cooking meat with coconut milk, then this is an excellent gourmet treat. Do try it for sure.