Stella’s Green Beef Curry

My stepmother has been eating gluten-free for the past ten months, and reports a real turnaround in the way she feels. Meanwhile, my best friend was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that may be treatable with a gluten-free diet, so she’s also eating that way. And, though no one told me when I was diagnosed six and a half years ago, apparently gluten-free is the way to go for those of us suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease (the auto-immune form of hypothyroidism, suffered by about one in every thousand people, mostly women).  So I’ve been trying to cut back lately, too.  Not because it’s a trend, but because I want to achieve optimum health.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to crave bright, fresh flavors in the summer: lemon, lime, pistachio, berries, gelato, sorbet, and fresh herbs from the garden.  And we’ve been on a real cilantro and lime kick at our house.  So I decided to try my hand at a Thai-inspired green curry.  Since I had a whole pound of fresh ground beef from Wheatsville on hand, that’s what I made, and the result was luxurious.

This one’s actually pretty darn easy; so if you like the flavors like I do, and you’ve never tried to make a curry at home, this is a great place to start.  Using coconut oil and coconut milk infuses this dish with that unmistakeble, creamy flavor, and blending in practically a whole armful of fresh cilantro results in a refreshing and aromatic curry.

If you like these flavors, you might also try my popular Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream and Cilantro Sauce.  And check back next week for another lime-doused, cilantro-sprinkled meal for summer.  August may well prove to be the Month of Green.

The meat and veg
1 heaping Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium head of broccoli, washed and chopped
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed and chopped
1 cup cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 lb. ground beef
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish, to taste

For the curry
~2 cups of cilantro, washed and chopped
12 oz. coconut milk (one standard can)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp green Thai curry paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
~2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
lime wedges for garnish

1. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion and sauté for about five minutes, until onion is translucent and fragrant. Add broccoli and cauliflower (you can used frozen veggies, but thaw them first). Cook for another ten minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and cook for about two minutes, just until they begin to soften.

2. Add beef, breaking it up with your spatula. Stir thoroughly and allow to cook for about ten minutes, turning the meat and veggies over a couple of times.

3. Meanwhile, add all the curry ingredients to a blender and liquefy. Taste the curry, and adjust seasonings to suit. Set aside.

4. Once beef is cooked through, pour curry into skillet and mix well. Reduce heat to low, and allow to warm thoroughly (about ten minutes), stirring occasionally.

5. Spoon out mixture into bowls and serve topped with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Squeeze the lime juice over the bowl before digging in!

Serves 4.

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Stella’s Coconut Chicken Curry

This is the first curry I have made that turned out as well as I’d hoped, so I’m sharing it with you. It’s easy, filling, and very rich. I love coconut milk. You could also add other diced vegetables, or serve over rice. I used the leftover sauce to make an amazing tuna salad with slivered almonds.

Enjoy!

4 skinless chicken breasts, chopped into one inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup full fat yogurt
4 large carrots, chopped into rounds
4 Tsbp butter, separated
1 Tbsp red wine
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1. Combine chopped chicken, garlic, spices, and yogurt in a mixing bowl bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more. Meanwhile, do the following prep steps.

2. In a small stock pot, boil carrots for approximately two minutes, until slightly softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, melt butter. Add red wine and tomato paste. Bring to a quick boil, stir, and reduce heat. Continue simmering until sauce thickens a bit, approximately ten minutes.

4. Add chicken and yogurt mix to the pan and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through. Add coconut milk, stir thoroughly, and allow to warm for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Serves 4.

Review: Hai Ky

I’ve been going to Hai Ky since they opened their Guadalupe location in May 2009. Convenient to my office at the time, I regularly popped in for an affordable vegan lunch, and was continually amazed at the portion sizes, tangy sauces, perfectly-fried tofu, and hassle-free service.

Since then, I’ve found that the freshness is a bit hit-and-miss, but when they get it right, they really get it right, and, for $7.25, you can’t really complain. Often one order is enough for me to make into two meals. It’s really a great spot for a quick lunch near campus. The space is clean and neat, and they have cozy little two-person booths in the front window that make for a perfect people-watching spot. The vegetarian menu is impressive, with clearly-marked vegan choices, and they have the usual selection of Vietnamese meaty favorites, including a variety of pho dishes, all types of bun, a “create your own stir-fry” choice, and several Chinese-inspired items such as General Tso, Kung Pao, and Sesame Chicken. Hai ky also serves up your standard Asian restaurant appetizers, so you can satiate your spring roll or edamame cravings here, too. Personally, I like the Cream Cheese Rangoon:

Pictured up top is the Beef Satay: tender, flash-grilled beef in a spicy satay sauce with onions and chives, served on a bed of steamed rice, carrots, cucumber, and cilantro. It was as good as it looks, and is also a steal at only $7.25. Another meat dish I enjoyed is the #70 lemongrass and vegetables with stir-fried chicken:

Even though I’m now an omnivore, I can’t resist Hai Ky’s tofu dishes. Their fried tofu is so perfect, I rarely even look at the meat menu. In fact, there is one dish that’s so good, I rarely look at the menu at all. I just order the #83, bun goi cuon tofu. It’s a heaping bowl of vermicelli, served with chunks of fried tofu and onion in a tangy brown sauce, plus your choice of spring roll or egg roll, and a side of peanut dipping sauce, all topped with fresh grated carrots, chopped green onions, sliced cucumber, and bright cilantro.

This is probably one of my favorite lunches in Austin. It’s fast, affordable, and filling – a great value for hungry college students or time-poor wage slaves who need a quick but satisfying meal.

Did I mention the perfect fried tofu?

Hai Ky
2000 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705