Blame it on the turmeric.
The last time I was in Philadelphia, of course I visited the Reading Terminal Market (yes, again), and as usual, I found something I wasn't looking for: fresh turmeric. I had never seen anything but the dried version in a bottle, so of course I had to try it.
But finding a recipe for fresh turmeric is not easy, I soon discovered. Luckily I came upon one recipe for a Thai-inspired beef curry on Epicurious. What'e more, I had most of the (rather unusual) ingredients on hand, so I decided it was meant to be.
In case you're wondering, a fresh, unpeeled turmeric looks like a dessicated caterpillar. Peeled, it's the color of a carrot. Its flavor is earthy and a little bit bitter, but not too strong. The stew is unusual and flavorful, and you can vary the heat to your taste.
3 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (these are not very hot)
½ tsp salt
1 lemongrass stalk (I had some picked lemongrass so used that)
2 Tblsp sliced peeled fresh galangal (uh, not—but I did have dried!)
2 Tblsp sliced peeled fresh turmeric
½ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup halved garlic cloves
3 Tblsp soy sauce
2 Tblsp ground dried Thai chiles (these are hot! So you decide)
6 cups beef broth (enough to cover)
1 cup halved shallots
3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into half-moons (about 1 cup)
Chopped fresh cilantro
Sliced Thai basil (I happened to have some growing in a pot)
Combine the curry paste, beef, soy sauce and ground chiles in a pot, and stir to coat the beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender, about 2-2 ½ hours.
Stir in the shallots and carrots. Simmer until the vegetables are tender (the timing will depend on how large your carrots were).
Garnish will the cilantro and basil, and serve over rice.
A nice warm dish for a cold winter night!