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Simple Thai Food: Beef Shank Matsaman Curry (แกงมัสมั่นเนื้อน่องลาย)

Beef Shank Matsaman Curry from Simple Thai Food Book by Leela Punyaratabandhu
To continue the series of photo-based posts from Simple Thai Food, here’s matsaman (massaman) curry made with beef shank.

I made this with fresh coconut milk from a mature coconut which I grated with the coconut bunny and extracted myself. Because of this, the coconut fat splits more readily and the curry broth, though certainly rich and full-bodied, doesn’t have the creamy, homogenous appearance that it usually does when canned or boxed coconut milk is used.

I didn’t have any yellow or white onions around when I made this batch of matsaman, so I went with the tiny pearl onions I had in the freezer. To compensate for the undersize onions, I –and, trust me, this made perfect sense at the time– cut the Yukon Gold potatoes into larger-than-usual chunks. But now I’m looking at the size disparity between the two, and I’m just as confused as some of you may be. None of this affects the taste, though.

Lastly, if you look closely, you will spot tiny little ivory/light golden-colored (or are they black and blue?), Siamese cardamoms which are used routinely in Thailand (I’ve mentioned them in the glossary), at least in the central Thai version of the curry. If you can find them, by all means, use them. If not, green cardamoms which you can find at most Middle Eastern and South Asian grocery stores will work just fine.

You can find the recipe for beef shank matsaman curry on page 108 of Simple Thai Food.

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Southern Thai Pork Rib Curry (แกงพริกกระดูกหมู)

Southern Thai Pork Rib Curry
The assumption is often that Thai curries are spicy dishes with thick, creamy coconut-based curry sauce – so much so that questions along the lines of, “How could you possibly call that a curry?” always come up whenever I introduce any dish the Thai recognize as a “curry” that happens to contain no coconut milk. The central sour curry comes to mind; the southern sour curry as well. Then there’s a central version of the so-called “jungle curry” I’ve included in Simple Thai Food that, as far as the Thais are concerned, is a full-fledged curry even though it has absolutely no coconut. Continue Reading →

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Salted Chicken Shreds ไก่คั่วเกลือ

Salted Chicken Shreds
Last November marked the 6th anniversary of SheSimmers. I’ve been doing this thing for six years. And though it doesn’t feel that way to me, that’s a long time. In most relationships, this is long enough for people to feel so comfortable with each other that even certain bodily functions no longer present an issue. Don’t worry; I’m not going to do anything in your general direction — at least not yet. All I’m saying is that I now feel comfortable enough around you guys to post things that I was once afraid might cause you to avert your eyes. This thing you’re looking at, for example. You can see why no poets have ever compared it to a night of cloudless climes and starry skies or declared it more lovely and temperate than a summer’s day. In fact, is there even a way to make it look cute? Stack it up like brownies and tie it with 3-colored raffia? Slap a few Hello Kitty stickers on it? I don’t think so.

But actually, now that I think about it, I did this once before. Remember four years ago when I wrote about salted/fermented soybean paste? That was the only time on this blog I’d ever described something as aesthetically-compromised. (I didn’t say she was ugly, though; I just said she was no Helen of Troy.) What happened next? Many of you have fallen in love with khao man gai (RTGS: khao man kai), a dish whose success rests on this condiment. Well, these chicken shreds are no different. So even though you may hesitate to make room in your life for something that looks like this, I’m asking you to trust me that this dish could very well become your new best friend. Continue Reading →

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