There are not that many people, who grow their own produce on our island, Virgin Gorda. You would think, with all the sun and water we have around here we would be able to grow everything.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
From what I understand, there are 2 major reasons for that. (1) The soil of Virgin Gorda is too thin and (2) the water we use is distilled from the ocean and even though we couldn’t taste the salt in it, some plants could.
I learned this from my friend Roman, who is the botanist of a hotel’s nursery on the island. Originally from Dominica, he knows a lot about growing and taking care of plants.
In his nursery, Roman mostly grows plants for the landscape of the hotel. However, in a little corner, he also grows some fresh foods like scallions, eggplants, fresh herbs, and different kinds of peppers.
That is why, last week when I decided to make this Thai Beef Curry dish, I could only think of one place to find fresh lemon grass. Luckily, Roman had it in his nursery. After a quick trip over there, thanks to Roman, I came home with enough lemon grass to feed an army.
Truth be told, what makes this Thai Beef Curry dish is the addition of fresh lemon grass to the curry paste. The refreshing flavor that it gives to the end product is truly amazing.
To use in this dish, I first washed them under water until they are free of any soil. Then I bashed the white part of 1 stalk and chopped the green parts of 2 stalks. I added the white part into the curry mixture and the green parts (leaves) in to the slow cooker with all the other stuff.
As a side note, making this dish could not be easier. All you have to do is to quickly sear the meat, make the curry, and put everything in your slow cooker. After 7 hours of cooking in low heat, you have a delicious Beef Curry with all the heavenly flavors of the Thai cuisine.
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 ½ to 4 pounds beef stew meat, cut into small cubes
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, divided & roughly chopped
- 2 lemon grass stalks, 1 bashed and 1 roughly chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green peppers, chopped
- 2-inch long fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 (14 ounces) can coconut milk
- 2 star anise
- 1-2 fresh limes, sliced
- Using paper towels, pat-dry the stew meat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large (12-inch) heavy bottom pan (I used my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. When the oil is sizzling hot, add ⅓ of the meat and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Place it on a plate.
- Continue the same process for the rest of the meat using the other 2 tablespoons of oil.
- When all the meat is partially cooked, cover it with aluminum foil while you are working on the curry. Do not wash the pan.
- In the bowl of a food processor, place ½-cup cilantro leaves, bashed lemon grass, garlic, green pepper, and ginger. Process until it turns into a paste.
- Transfer the curry paste into the now-empty pan and cook, stirring continuously, over medium heat, for 5 -7 minutes.
- Place the meat (with all of its juices), curry, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar, coconut milk, and star anise in the bowl of your slow cooker. Mix until they are all combined.
- Cook in low heat setting for 7 to 8 hours.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle each portion with chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.