Thai Massaman Beef Curry “Stew”

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Those who’ve been around for a long time probably remember that I have lots of uses for Massaman Curry Paste. You should be able to easily find it at any Asian market or grocery, or, Amazon has several brands. Aroy-D also has it (not in Amazon for some reason) but that’s what I’m using now and can’t tell a difference.

So here’s a search link for all the stuff I’ve done with that paste. Here’s a classic beef stew using it (no rice, typical peas, carrots, and potatoes…and tenderloin). How about wild kill elk? Hamburger Helper?

Massaman Meat Balls, anyone? Of course, if you’re going to try that, then you must also try my Blue Cheese Meatballs, as well as the au Roquefort variation.

Ok, so let’s do Thai Massaman Curry.

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  • About a pound or so of beef (stew meat is fine)
  • 2 TBS Massaman curry paste (+/- to taste)
  • 1 can coconut milk (not the “light” stuff; you’ll make soup)
  • 1-2 cups beef stock, as needed
  • 1 yellow sweet potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 – 2/3 yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted peanuts (preferred, but whatever you can get)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A dusting of the meat with cardamon (or 5 crushed pods)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 TBS Thai fish sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar


  1. I do a slow cooker variation in order to get the meat tender. I don’t bother browning the meat, just into the slow cooker, set to high, dust with cardamon, add curry paste, cinnamon, bay leaves, and brown sugar then add beef stock until just right at the level of the meat (don’t cover the meat with stock, you’ll have too much to reduce later). Cover the pot. In about 2 hours, your beef should be fork tender.
  2. IMG 2129
    Tender chunks of beef
  3. Strain the meat, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon, then set the broth to reduce in the wok while cooking your onion and peanuts. Let it get pretty thick.
  4. IMG 2130
    Reduce until thick
  5. Then add everything else in (coconut milk, fish sauce, carrots and potato), bring to a boil, reduce to light simmer for about 20 minutes while the carrot and potato get tender, but don’t become mush. Important: this is where you want to test for flavor, adding more curry paste if you need.
  6. Serve it with rice on the side, and please don’t put your curry over the rice. Jasmine is the go-to, but I use parboiled rice for its far lower glycemic index, cooked in chicken stock. Preferred eating method is with a tablespoon (the way Thai people do). The spoon serves as a knife to cut the meat and as a scoop for the rice and sauce.
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Go give it a try. I’ve been eating Massaman regularly, in any Thai restaurant I go to, and even off street carts in Thailand for over 20 years. I fist discovered it in 1989 at a restaurant name Beau Thai on Cannery Row in Monterey, CA (no longer there). It’s my favorite Thai dish and I like a lot of them.

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  1. Pretty much exactly what I was thinking of making this weekend. We had a buffet restaurant in Manchester that did a killer Massaman, and it was the only one of their dishes that I missed when they disappeared for ‘refurbishments’ (actually for not paying rent for months). Good times.

  2. doogiehowsermd says:

    Gasp! 2 TBS of brown sugar? What are you thinking man?

    I prefer palm sugar myself. Richer flavor.

  3. Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added. I just use blackstrap molasses, much less, for the flavor. Yeah, yeah, less sweetness and viscosity, not the same, but good flavor.

  4. Kelly A. says:

    That sounds so amazing, and I have a tub of the Mae Ploy brand. Going to make it soon!

  5. I love Massaman. Yours looks nothing like mine. Great, innit?

  6. Hi Richard, I’m curious as to why the rice should not be served under the curry. Is it just personal aversion or is there some kind of health benefit?
    PS: digging your research on RS. Paleo wasn’t too kind to my gut flora either; since adding in lots of cold rice and potatoes, soaked oatmeal and modest amounts of beans, I have seen huge improvements in bowel function. Still some tweaking to make but I’m not leaping in to supplementing just yet- beans are still problematic so I think I’ll give my gut a chance to adjust first. The curry looks tasty!

    • Nope, just the way it’s done. Go to Thailand, India, wherever, curries and stews are ALWAYS served alongside the rice. Plus, if you put it on the rice it tends to soak up the sauce creating a rather homogenized dish.

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