People ask me all the time if I have a favorite kitchen appliance or tool. That’s a tough one to answer because it all depends on what I’m cooking, baking or blending…you get the point.
I usually tell people that I’ve had my KitchenAid stand mixer and Cuisinart food processor for 20 years, and these are definitely two basic pieces of equipment I would suggest all kitchens have. I’m not promoting the brands necessarily; these just happen to be what I have and they’ve performed quite well for me for two decades now.
But there is one thing in the kitchen that I seem to use the most often. It’s not an appliance or a tool. It’s a piece of cookware — my All-Clad stainless steel wok. It’s the best investment (yes it wasn’t cheap) I’ve made in cookware, maybe ever.
I know your family’s schedule is as crazy as mine, and just like you, it’s so easy for me to skip cooking dinner and just grab something after the game, practice or work. But picking up fast-food all the time tends to bust my food budget, not to mention the excess calories and fat in my diet.
This is where the wok has saved me. I can make a huge pot of jasmine rice or pasta early in the week, and we have it ready to reheat when the hunger hits, and in just a few minutes I can stir-fry a lean protein and some vegetables, keeping the fat and sauces to a minimum. Stir-fries are also a wonderful way to use leftover vegetables – or even throw in an egg or two if you’re out of meat.
Coconut Beef Curry has incredible flavor and just the right amount of heat from the curry paste to spice it up. To make it even healthier, use low-fat coconut milk and whole-wheat pasta. My teenage boys love this dish, and to me, the leftovers are even better.
Coconut Beef Curry
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 lb beef sirloin, sliced into thin strips (works great with chicken too)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 red or orange bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1/3 cup water
1 Tbs red curry paste
1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
8 oz angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Cook in skillet, one half at a time. Do not stir; allow beef to brown for 2 minutes per side. Remove beef and keep warm; repeat with remaining oil and beef. Add onion, peppers and water to skillet, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add curry paste, and cook 1 minute while stirring constantly. Return beef and juices to skillet. Add coconut milk, and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and lime juice. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve over pasta.