This is a simple beef stir-fry, using mince, which is fast and tasty. The spice paste is delicious and you can use it with any meat, vegetables or noodles in a stir-fry. Swap the beef for chicken or pork mince or some chopped prawns, or simply add more vegetables if that’s what you like. Just add steamed rice and greens to make a full meal. You can find the extra-long snake beans in most supermarkets, but you can also use regular green beans.
2 tsp dried shrimp
150g snake beans, washed and cut into 3cm lengths
6 tbsp vegetable oil
300g beef mince
2 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ cup coriander leaves, to serve
1 tsp Thai shrimp paste
3 dried red chillies, chopped
5 shallots [French eschalots], chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp chopped lemongrass heart
1 tsp washed, scraped and chopped coriander root
1 tsp chopped galangal
½ tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp grated kaffir lime zest
1 tsp salt
1. To make the spice paste, put the Thai shrimp paste in foil and pop it under the grill or over a flame until it becomes fragrant. Place in a mortar with remaining paste ingredients and pound with a pestle until paste is as fine as possible.
2. Soak the shrimp in warm water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, boil the beans until just cooked (about 5 minutes), then drain and refresh immediately in iced water and drain again. Set aside.
4. Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a wok over high heat, add the beef and stir-fry until just cooked. Remove and set aside.
5. Fry the spice paste in the wok with the remaining 3 tbsp of oil until fragrant, then add the beef, beans, shrimp, sugar, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
6. To serve, pile onto a large platter with coriander leaves on the side.