Tag Archives: stirfry

Thai Chili Beef (Neua Pad Prik)

I absolutely love Thai food. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of luck creating Thai dishes at home that have that restaurant quality to them. My Pad See Ew turned out quite decently, but my struggles with other dishes are not to be taken lightly–after at least a dozen attempts at red curry, for example, I’m still not satisfied enough to share my recipe. So I am very happy to say that, held by the hand of the ‘The Best International Recipe’ cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, I have produced a restaurant quality Chili Beef dish in my own kitchen. And nothing could bring me more pleasure than to pass this recipe along so that you can, too! As with most stir fries, there’s a lot of chopping and mincing up front, because once the burner goes on the actual cook time is very short.

My main modification to this recipe is doubling the sauce, but other than that it’s very close to the original. Let’s go!


For the sauce

4 TBS fish sauce
4 TBS rice vinegar
4 TBS water
2 TBS light brown sugar
2 TBS Thai chili-garlic sauce (Sriracha)

For the marinade

1 TBS fish sauce
1 tsp light brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp white pepper

For the stir-fry

2 lbs blade or flank steak
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBS vegetable oil
3 Thai, serrano, or jalapeño peppers
4 large shallots
1/2 cup basil
1/2 cup cilantro
1 lime
1/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

Here are all the ingredients. A possibly daunting amount–but please don’t be deterred. Forge ahead and realize your Thai dreams.

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce; set aside.

It looks quite humble, but this sauce will soon become my favorite part of the dish.

Also, it will allow you to make friends with this shady character:

The notorious fish sauce. Embrace it! I know I do. Just don’t tell me how it’s made, okay?

Slice the steak crosswise on the bias, and then cut into thin strips about ¼ inch thick. I bought pre-sliced beef because I’ve secretly wanted to for years–and it was on sale!

However, it wasn’t cut thinly enough, so I did a little extra slicing.

Mix the marinade ingredients together . . .

. . . and add it to the beef strips.

Let the meat marinate for at least 10 minutes (or up to an hour).

Now get your knife ready: it’s time to  do all the chopping/mincing. Mince the garlic and mix it with 1 tsp of oil. Set it aside.

Halve the hot peppers . . .

. . . and remove the seeds. I usually scrape them out with a sharp paring knife. Cut them into matchsticks.

If you’re thinking this dish is going to be deathly spicy, don’t worry–removing the seeds takes out most of the heat.

Quarter the shallots lengthwise . . .

. . . and using your fingers, separate the layers.

Set the shallots and chilies aside together in a bowl.

Roughly chop the cilantro (but leave the basil leaves whole unless they’re unusually large–which mine were).

Cut the lime into wedges and lightly chop the peanuts–these garnishes are essential. I shouldn’t even be calling them garnishes. They’re not mere extras; they’re part of the family!

All our prep work is now done. You should have the following items right next to your skillet, ready to go:

Going clockwise from the top left: the beef. Vegetable or peanut oil. A clean bowl to put the cooked beef in. The garlic/oil mixture. The sauce. The chilies and shallots. Check!

A heads up: we’re going to cook the beef in 3 batches. It may sound very time-consuming, but cooking in small batches means the batches cook very very quickly (in literally two and a half minutes per round), plus the beef will get nice and browned instead of steaming and becoming floppy due to overcrowding in the pan.

Alright! Things are about to get hot in here. Heat 2 tsp oil in a 12” cast iron skillet over high heat. When the oil starts shimmering, add 1/3 of the beef strips.

Immediately spread them out in the pan . . .

. . . and don’t touch them for 2 minutes. Seriously–get that spatula away! You’ll see they are cooking very quickly:

Don’t be tempted! Keep your mitts off that meat.

After the full 2 minutes are up, they should be very nicely seared on one side. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, moving them around the pan until they’re cooked through.

Remove the beef to a bowl:

Cook the remaining 2 batches of the beef in the same way.

Are you tempted to cook it all together to save time? Don’t. I’ve made that mistake and it takes the final dish down about 5 notches. Plus, it ends up taking about just as long as the batch method.

Once the meat is all done, add 2 tsp oil to the skillet. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the shallot and red chilies.

Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re getting soft and browned. Next up: clear a space in the middle of the skillet and add the garlic/oil mixture.

Press the garlic into the pan with a spatula for about 15 seconds . . .

. . . then mix it into the veggies.

Add the sauce:

Increase the heat to high, and let it reduce and thicken for about 30 seconds, stirring.

Dump in the beef with any accumulated juices, stirring well to get it coated in the sauce.

Stir in half the cilantro and basil and take the skillet off the heat.


Gorgeous, ain’t it?

Serve over white rice and garnish with the remaining cilantro and basil, peanuts, and lime wedges.

Serve it on a plate . . .

. . . or in a bowl.

I tried it both ways and whaddya know–it tastes the same!

Seared, flavorful meat . . . crunchy peanuts . . . bright lime juice . . . tender veggies . . .

Which reminds me: please don’t forget to squeeze on the lime. It really adds a lot.

What a triumph of a dish.

Make it, folks! If you love Thai food, jump in no holds barred.

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Szechwan Green Beans

Hi all! Right now I am headed to Guadalajara with my boss–we’re off to visit one of the company’s big clients. Wish me luck, because last time we visited this guy we were strong-armed into going to a ‘party’ with the client and his friends, which landed us in the middle of a field with a mariachi band, about 20 very emotional men (those mariachi tunes really move them), and no working toilets or electricity. As darkness fell, the mosquitoes buzzed hungrily around us and we continued to be plied with beer after beer, my ‘needs’ drove me to an old toilet in the recesses of a crumbling structure that not only was un-operational but was also crawling with large spiders.

I’m hoping this visit is less . . . eventful.

Anyway, today I’m sharing an amazing recipe. It’s an America’s Test Kitchen wonder adapted from their cookbook ‘The Best International Recipe.’

With the best of intentions, I checked this book out of the library because I didn’t want to add another cookbook to my collection unless it was spectacular beyond belief. But after making 3 recipes so far with simply incredible results, I realized that it is spectacular beyond belief. So I’m ordering it on amazon. And you should, too. The writers are thorough, clear with their explanation, and their recipes never fail. Yes, I am proselytizing–but it’s from a very sincere spot in my heart. I’ll be sharing my adaptation of their Thai Chili Beef recipe tomorrow from the same cookbook, and if that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Anyway, this is an awesome weeknight recipe. Unlike some stir fries which require tons of chopping and a good 30 minutes of prep work, this is an extremely effortless little dish made entirely with ingredients available at a regular supermarket. It packs just the right amount of spiciness for my palate, and it’s also just the right amount of food for two hungry individuals.


(Serves 2)

For the sauce

2 TBS water
2 TBS light soy sauce
1 TBS Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dry mustard

For the stir-fry

2 TBS vegetable oil
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
1/3 lb ground turkey or pork
4 garlic cloves
1 TBS grated or minced ginger
3 green onions, sliced on the bias
1 tsp sesame oil

At first it may look like there are a lot of ingredients involved–and a lot of ingredients usually = a lot of effort.

However, most of this clutter is for a quick sauce, so mix all the sauce ingredients up in a bowl:

Don’t forget the dry mustard! I forgot to pose him with the family picture, and there were many hurt feelings all around.

I’m sorry Colonel Mustard! Please don’t murder me with a candlestick in the ballroom.

And voilà. With the sauce out of the way, the remaining ingredients no longer look like a threatening army.

Now wash the green beans and snap off the stems.

If you want to make this dish an even faster affair, just buy pre-trimmed and pre-washed green beans. I almost did . . . but then I didn’t.

Chop ’em into 2-inch lengths.

Heat the oil in a 12” cast iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the green beans . . .

. . . and cook them for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are dark, shriveled and spotted in places.

In between stirrings, mince the garlic and grate the ginger.

Based on recommendations from you all, I have started freezing chunks of ginger. I take the pieces straight out of the freezer and grate them with my microplane. It’s so easy I almost cried.

You can also quickly slice the 3 green onions. Slice ’em on the diagonal for pretty pieces, like so:

By now the green beans should be quite shriveled and blackened.

Perfect! Remove the beans to a large plate for serving.

Don’t worry–they won’t have time to get cold. The rest of the stir fry takes almost exactly 3 minutes.

Next up: la carne. If you’re using ground pork, add it directly to the hot skillet on medium-high heat. If you’re using turkey like I did, add another 1 TBS of oil since it’s a less fatty meat. Plop in the pink mass:

Immediately start breaking up the clumps with a wooden spatula.

Stir fry that stuff for 2 minutes (until the meat is no longer pink) stirring almost constantly.

Add the ginger and garlic, and stir constantly for 30 seconds.

Quickly re-whisk the sauce with a fork (since the cornstarch falls to the bottom as it sits) and pour it in:

Whoops! There went a giant glop of cornstarch. Oh well. I’m just here to make you feel good about yourselves, after all.

Continue to stir and toss the sauce with the meat for another 30 seconds (if you stop, it will burn).

The sauce will thicken quickly. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the sesame oil and green onions.

Pour the meat mixture over the green beans onto the serving plate . . .

. . . grab a big ole serving spoon and some chopsticks . . .

. . . and serve the whole happy pile over white rice.

The house smelled incredible for the rest of the night.

Okay, the next morning there was still a lingering scent as well. It’s one of the byproducts of an apartment with zero ventilation.

The combination of these green beans with the sauce and the ground meat is pitch-perfect.

This is so good, guys. Do yourselves a favor and whip up a batch!

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