Larry Crowe, Associated Press
Red Curry Beef

This heavily seasoned, beef stir-fry is one part Thai curry dish, one part taco meat. And entirely delicious.

The trick for getting deep, bold flavors with almost no effort are three key ingredients — Thai red curry paste, coconut milk and freshly squeezed lime juice.

The curry paste, which can be found in grocer's Asian or ethnic aisle, is a thick, red seasoning that can be used to add heat to soups, stews, cooked rice and stir-fry dishes.

Unlike hot peppers, the heat of the curry paste won't clear your sinuses. This is more of a lingering, deeper, on-the-tongue heat. If you prefer milder tastes, start with 1/2 tablespoon and taste your way up.

The coconut milk (usually found in the same section as the curry paste) not only adds lush body to this dish, but the fat also acts as a balance to the heat.

Meanwhile, the lime juice cuts through both the curry paste and coconut milk with refreshing acidity.

Baby spinach and thinly sliced scallions are stirred in and wilted during the final stage of cooking, but any hardy greens would work well, including chopped baby bok choy, thinly sliced green cabbage or kale.

Serve this over rice of paired with fresh vegetables in a wrap.


Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 pound lean ground beef

1/4 cup coconut milk

6 scallions, thinly sliced

5-ounce bag baby spinach

Zest and juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

1/2 cup crushed unsalted peanuts

In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, combine the oil, curry paste, soy sauce and sugar. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and saute until cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk. Return to a simmer. Mix in the scallions and spinach and continue cooking until the greens are just wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix in the lime juice and zest and the basil. Serve over rice, garnished with peanuts.

Nutrition information per serving: 392 calories; 213 calories from fat; 24 g fat (6 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 30 g protein; 6 g fiber; 679 mg sodium.