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Smoky Stir-Fried Beef with Chilli Jam & Onion

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

by Sebby Holmes from THAI in 7: Delicious Thai Recipes in 7 Ingredients or Fewer

(Kyle Books)

Photography: Nassima Rothacker

This recipe is one of the first stir-fries I was taught and for this reason sticks close to me as a favourite. It is incredibly important to have the wok explosively hot and to cook quickly. If you get the temperatures perfect, the stir-fried beef will be rare in the middle, yet smoky and charred on the outside. Try it with venison, too.

Serves 2


4 banana shallots, unpeeled

1 lemongrass stalk

250g beef steak, bavette or onglet, sliced across the grain into 3cm chunks

1 white onion, sliced into 1cm chunks

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp palm sugar (or 1 tsp caster sugar)

2 tbsp tamarind paste


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4.

2. To make the chilli jam, place the banana shallots, lemongrass, ½ head of garlic (in the skin) and 3 long red chillies on a nonstick baking tray, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Roast on the top shelf for 25-30 minutes until softened (the lemongrass may need a further 5-10 minutes).

3. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel the skin from the garlic and shallots. Discard the skin and set the flesh to one side. Remove the stalks from the chillies and roughly chop, then remove the tough outer layer from the lemongrass and thinly slice. Using a pestle and mortar, pound everything together to make a coarse paste, or blitz in a food processor. This is your roasted chilli jam.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick wok over a high heat until almost smoking hot. With a wok spoon (or wooden spoon) in one hand, stir-fry the beef and onion in the oil, gently moving them constantly to seal the meat on all sides and begin to caramelise the onion. Add the roasted chilli jam and continue to toss for a minute or so – you may need to scrape the wok as the jam will stick a little. After roughly a minute, reduce the heat and deglaze the wok with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, the vinegar, sugar and tamarind paste and stir well. Taste the stir-fry; it should be sweet, sour, salty, smoky and spicy, so adjust the seasoning as you prefer.

5. To serve, pile the stir-fried beef into bowls along with all the juices and enjoy with steamed jasmine rice. Serve with sliced cucumber and fresh coriander or Thai basil leaves to add a little colour and freshness, if you like.

For a veggie version Nigel substituted sliced courgettes, green beans, diced aubergine and peppers for the steak.

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