Cantonese Classic: Savory Hong Kong-style Beef Curry

July 28, 2023

A Culinary Journey Back to Hong Kong

Embarking on a quest to recreate the Hong Kong-style beef curry that captivated me during a visit was about more than just cooking; it was a journey down memory lane. The profound flavors of this dish echoed sentimentally, offering a fresh insight into the art of curry-making.

When diving into the essence of the curry, the beef’s choice is paramount. Traditional Cantonese curries often opt for a beef cut rich in tendons and gristle, resulting in a slightly drier texture post-cooking. However, embracing the rich and flavorful chuck roast, commonly chosen for beef stews or pot roasts, we discovered a succulent balance of fat, rendering the beef delectably tender and pocket-friendly.

Golden Tips for a Perfect Curry:

  • Introduce salt towards the end of the cooking journey to maintain the beef’s moisture.
  • To master this curry’s palate, the harmonious balance between sugar, salt, and curry powder is crucial.
  • Keep that wok aside! A thick-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven is your best ally here, preventing rapid evaporation of the precious flavors.

Relish this Hong Kong-inspired beef curry on a leisurely weekend evening, and let each bite transport you to the bustling streets of Hong Kong.


For the Heart of the Curry:

  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck (cut into generous 1½-inch cubes)
  • 1/4 cup oil (with an additional 1 tablespoon set aside)
  • 4 garlic cloves (finely minced)
  • 5 shallots (neatly chopped)
  • A 6-inch lemongrass stalk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup premium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or plain water)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato concentrate

Veggies & More:

  • 2 medium-sized onions (sectioned into large pieces)
  • 3 plump potatoes (chunked)
  • 2 carrots (sized similarly)
  • 1½ cups coconut milk
  • 1½ teaspoons salt (adjusted to preference)

Steps to Culinary Nirvana:

  1. Initiate by cleansing the beef: boil water, immerse the beef pieces, and once it reaches a boil, drain and set aside.
  2. In your thick-bottomed pot, warm 1/4 cup oil over medium-low. Introduce the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and bay leaves, letting them infuse the oil. Post a few minutes, simmer the flame to its lowest, and integrate the curry powder and turmeric. To prevent sticking and ensure smoothness, drizzle more oil if needed.
  3. Introduce the beef, chicken broth, sugar, and tomato concentrate into this fragrant mixture. Elevate the heat until boiling, stir, then reduce heat to medium, covering the pot. Allow this rich blend to gently simmer for about 60-75 minutes, ensuring occasional stirring to prevent any bottom-sticking.
  4. As your curry hums, ready your onions, potatoes, and carrots. Use a wok to heat that spare tablespoon of oil. Saute the onions until they’re translucent. Once done, transfer and keep aside.
  5. Post the beef’s simmering session, introduce the coconut milk, potatoes, and carrots. Increase heat till boiling, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for another 20 minutes.
  6. Once all ingredients are perfectly tender, fold in the onions and season with salt. Depending on your preference, you can slightly elevate the heat to condense the sauce a tad. The resultant sauce should be lavish enough to companion your rice. Pro tip: its flavor deepens overnight, so don’t hesitate to prepare in generous quantities!

Did You Know?

While curry might be commonly associated with Indian cuisine, many Asian countries, including Hong Kong, have their unique spin on this flavorful dish. Hong Kong’s version draws influences from both Indian and Chinese cultures, reflecting the city’s diverse cultural tapestry. Using ingredients like lemongrass and coconut milk, this curry offers a vibrant and rich taste profile, distinguishing it from other curry varieties. The next time you’re enjoying this dish, take a moment to appreciate the blend of histories and cultures in every bite.

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