I had very high hopes for this dish (though I understand that “thai-style beef thing” does not communicate “high hopes” very well). In fact, when I made the chicken tarkari a few weeks ago, that was a last-minute decision after I bought all the ingredients for both that dish and this. I love Thai food. There are two places in my area that are really good, and I order from them at minimum once a week. On top of that, Molly‘s description of the dish in question was really compelling:
… he told me to make a Thai dish: stir-fried ground beef with chiles and basil, served on a bed of rice, with a fried egg.
I’ve made it four times since, and one of those times was in Oklahoma, for my mother and cousins, so they can vouch for it. In fact, maybe this will tell you something. It’s thunderstorm season in Oklahoma, an annual event that I spent my entire childhood dreading, and a giant hailstorm hit that night, as we were finishing our meal. The windows along the back of the house began to shatter, and as we ran to the closets for cover, you could hear the wind screaming through the rooms. But the Thai beef was tasty enough that, after we had come out of hiding, my cousin Jason hovered over the wok, tempted to dip in for seconds, even though the leftovers shimmered with tiny shards of glass.
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it didn’t deliver. I just can’t figure out why. I followed the directions exactly, with the exception of leaving out the sugar and forgetting to top with lime. I was somewhat put off by the taste of the fish sauce, which makes exactly zero sense given the quantity of Thai food I eat. I used Squid brand – the only brand available at my supermarket (next time I’m trying the Asian market) – which SheSimmers (aka Leela), a Thailand-born Thai food blogger, described as follows in her recent review of Thai fish sauces:
… I would be perfectly happy using [this] in all dishes including those in which fish sauce is the star of the show.
So either Thai restaurants use way less fish sauce than this recipe did – which doesn’t make sense, since I only used two tablespoons (I doubled the recipe) – or they use it with a completely different flavor profile – which also doesn’t make a ton of sense – or they use a brand with a very different recipe. I have no idea what was up here, is what I’m saying. I guess we’ll see when I make something with fish sauce in the future.
Notes: I doubled the recipe. I also left out the sugar, forgot to top with lime, and used water where “chicken broth or water” was suggested since the only chicken broth I had was the kind my mom can’t eat and I was cooking for the family.
Verdict: Very spicy, but otherwise bland. There wasn’t a very interesting flavor profile and I don’t feel the flavors ever really melded. I’m not going to say this is a bad recipe, but it definitely didn’t work for me. C-