Archive of BBC Food Recipes

Stir-fry beef with peanuts and choy sum

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 4
From MasterChef
Homemade Thai-style curry paste turns this beef curry into something special.


  1. To make the curry paste, place a dry frying pan over medium heat. Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds, along with the mace and peppercorns until the cumin darkens. Remove from the pan and grind them to a powder in a pestle and mortar.

  2. In a small food processor, blend the chillies with the shallots, garlic and lemongrass. Add the dry roasted spices, galangal, lime zest, coriander and shrimp paste. Blend to a paste. Fry the paste until fragrant, then stir in the coconut milk and sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  3. For the beef stir-fry, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the choy sum and gai lan. Blanch for one minute, then drain and refresh in ice-cold water. Chop the stems into bite-sized pieces and set aside with the leaves.

  4. Meanwhile, heat a thick-based wok until very hot and then add the oil. Take the beef and drop it in so it sizzles. Once the beef is browned, add the lime leaves, chilli and choy sum stems with a good amount of the curry paste. Fry well so it goes sticky and sweet. Mix and then remove from the heat and add the herbs and the cooked choy sum and gai lan leaves.

  5. Serve garnished with peanuts.


For the curry paste

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 11 white peppercorns
  • 10 large dried red chillies, soaked for 15 minutes in hot water, seeds removed
  • 4 shallots (preferably Thai), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 stem of lemongrass, dry outer leaves removed, roughly chopped
  • thumb-sized piece of galangal
  • 1 lime, zest only
  • 4-5 coriander roots and stalk
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (blachan)
  • 240ml/8fl oz thick coconut milk
  • 100g/3½oz palm sugar

For the beef stir-fry

  • 100g/3½oz choy sum
  • 100g/3½oz gai lan (or more choy sum, or bok choi)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g/1lb 2oz thinly sliced beef fillet
  • 5 lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp curry paste (from above)
  • handful Thai basil
  • handful mint
  • handful coriander
  • handful roast peanuts, crushed

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