Ready in 45 minutes
The Problem: We found a recipe for ultimate Thai chile beef in one of our favorite cookbooks, but it required exotic ingredients and three hours of preparation?definitely not a recipe suitable for making midweek supper in an average American home kitchen. (Note: we subsequently also tackled the same dish with shrimp, solving the same problems).
The Goal: We wanted to create a sophisticated Thai chile beef recipe built around the traditional Thai flavorsspicy, sweet, sour, and saltyusing readily available ingredients and requiring minimal cooking time.
The Solution: A cheap and readily available cut?blade steak?won our taste test for its tenderness and very beefy flavor. We added the beef to our transformed stir-fry marinade?made with fish sauce for its briny flavor, white pepper for its spicy and almost gamy flavor, citrusy coriander, and a little light brown sugar for both sweetness and help in developing caramelization. With these complex elements, the beef needed to marinate for only 15 minutes to develop full flavor. We also wanted some heat but found it difficult to achieve just the right amount as fresh jalape?os have wildly unpredictable heat levels. To solve the problem, we introduced a second, easily controlled heat source?Asian chili-garlic paste?that added toasty garlicky flavors along with heat. More fish sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, fresh mint and cilantro, a few crunchy chopped peanuts, and a bright squirt of lime juice finished the dish.
FOR THE BEEF AND MARINADE:
Combine coriander, white pepper, brown sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl. Add beef, toss well to combine; marinate 15 minutes.
FOR THE STIR FRY
1. In small bowl, stir togetehr fish sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar, and chili-garlic past until sugar dissoves; set asise. In small bowl, mix garlic with 1 teapoon oil; set aside. Heat 2 teapoons oil in 12" nonsitck skillet over high heat until smoking; add one-third of beef to skillet in even layer. Cook, with stirring, until well browned, about 2 minutes, then stir and continue cooking until beef is browned around edges and no longer pink in the center, about 30 seconds. Transfer beef to medum bowl. Repeat with additional oil and remaining meat in 2 more batches.
3 Afte transferring last batch of beef to bowl, reduce heat to medium; add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to now-empty sillet and swirl to coat. Add chiles and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Push cile-shallot mixture to sides of skillet to clear center; add garlic to clearing and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir to combien garlice with chile-shallot mixture. Add fish sauce mixture to skillet; increase heat to high and cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 30 seconds. Return beef and any accumulated juices to skillet, toss well to combine and coat with sauce, stir in half of mint and cilantro; serve immediately, sprinkling individual servings with portion of peanuts and remaining herbs, and passing lime wedges separtely.
Serve with Rice