Gang Massaman (Southern Thai Beef Curry and Potatoes)
Fall is in full swing here in Chicago. Its curry weather. Its beef and potato season. Its beef, potatoe, and curry season.
As much as I would like for you to make this dish your own, I will have to say, this is the type of curry that is best left as is. Beef, potatoes, some onions, peanuts, and cardamom pods if you really want to go there. I personally just really like cardamom and use it every chance I get. Season with a touch of sugar, tamarind pulp, and salt. This dish is primarily supposed to be sweet with subtle notes of tanginess and salty to finish. Also, there is no need to add other vegetables, basil, kaffir lime leaves to make it anymore Thai than it actually isn’t. This dish is from the South and became popular in South Thailand as a Indian Muslim Thai Hybrid. I’ll make some other curries that play well to an assortment of vegetables but for this dish, I’d keep it simple and pure. Its super satisfying. This is my oldest brother’s favorite dish and I even FedExed to him when he was super homesick.
For this, Chuck roast works best. You want nice marbling, not too fatty but definitely not lean. Stay away from those fancy tender cuts of meat. The meat will cook down in the coconut milk for 3-4 hours and bring out that fatty richness. Use waxy potatoes here, the kind that is terrible for baking but perfect for stews. They hold their shape. What you dont want is a weird mashed potato lumpy mess that will take away from the texture of the Massaman spices. I just halved my potatoes and left the skin on. It helps keep their shape.
As much as I do love making things from scratch, I actually particularly like premade Massaman Curry paste. I don’t think there is too much to alter and I’ve been using the can for years. I adjust the flavor a little bit at the end with a touch of tamarind to give it that zip.
An important step in Thai curries is “breaking your curry paste” or fry up the curry paste in coconut cream, to help open up the spices. This builds a foundation to curry so it releases the oiles and spice into the dish making it not taste fast. For this, let your can of coconut milk settle at room temperature. If you’re somewhere hot, put it in the refrigerator. In a large heavy bottom pot, scoop off the top 1/2 cup of the can and fry in medium heat. Add your curry paste and continue to fry until you see the coconut cream turn clear.
To buy the curry paste: Click here