After a long day of work or play, I’m a fan of any dinner that doesn’t take too much thought. That’s especially true when I’m coming off of a vacation and not yet back into the rhythm of cooking at home.
Milk Street’s latest cookbook comes to the rescue with a theme, spelled out in its title, that anyone tasked with daily cooking can appreciate: “Simple.”
A simple recipe, the team writes, isn’t so much easy — though many are — as it is so perfectly constructed that every component is essential and in balance with the whole. Drilled down to the essence, “Simple recipes are reductionist, each step and ingredient integral to the final dish.”
This easy weeknight recipe beautifully illustrates how just a handful of ingredients can be transformed into a quick, nourishing and extremely flavorful supper. Inspired by the dry style curries of southern India, it embraces blooming — or heating spices in hot fat to extract their flavor and spread it throughout a dish.
It combines toasted coconut with thinly sliced beef, the punchy heat of fresh ginger, green onion and the earthy flavor of curry powder. The dish takes about the same time to prepare as the pot of rice you’ll serve it with.
I couldn’t find sirloin tips, so I used thinly sliced sirloin steak on my butcher’s recommendation. When blooming the spices, be sure to start with cool or warm oil and heat slowly so they don’t burn and turn bitter — it only takes a few minutes to wake up the flavors.
Garnish with fresh herbs and yogurt.
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Coconut Curry Beef
1 cup dried unsweetened wide-flaked coconut or 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tablespoons neutral oil
1 tablespoon coriander, cumin or mustard seeds, or combination
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder
1 pound beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, cut with the grain into 2- or 3-inch pieces, then thinly sliced against the grain
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Steamed rice, for serving
Minced fresh chilies, chopped cilantro and/plain whole-milk yogurt for garnish
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, toast coconut, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Return skillet to medium-high heat, and add oil and seeds. Cook, occasionally stirring and swirling, until sizzling and fragrant, 30-60 seconds.
Add ginger and scallion whites. Cook, stirring, until browned and fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add garam masala or curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
Add beef and cook, stirring, until mostly browned but some pink remains, 1 1/2 -2 minutes.
Add half the toasted coconut, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/3 cup water, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Cook until liquid has evaporated and the beef is fully browned and tender, 2-4 minutes.
Off heat, stir in scallion greens, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve on top or alongside rice, sprinkled with remaining toasted coconut. Garnish with chilies, chopped cilantro and/or yogurt.
— “Milk Street Simple” by Christopher Kimball (Voracious, $35)
Tribune News Service