A Foodie’s Nostalgia
Evoking the warmth of cherished memories is unparalleled. My childhood in New York City was sprinkled with food adventures, and sometimes, an unexpected delight like instant pot curry-infused beef. Whether it was festive family get-togethers in Chinatown or Queens, or those dim sum brunches that quietly thrilled the heart, my taste buds were on a perpetual voyage. Among these, the call of NY Noodletown or JJ Noodle, with their takeout treasures, was irresistible, leading us into a universe of rich and varied tastes.
The Beef Behind The Magic
The magic behind this curry-infused beef lies in its unique choice of meat: the “rough flank” or “outside flank”, also known as “ngau lam” in Cantonese. Far from the more commonly recognized flank steak, this is a resilient cut, demanding hours of braising to unlock its melt-in-your-mouth goodness. While its unique texture, rich in tendons, might sound unconventional, when cooked right, it offers a culinary experience akin to the most succulent brisket or pot roast.
Reviving A Fading Delight
With traditional recipes sometimes getting lost in the sands of time, I recently faced disappointment. My favorite braised curry beef wasn’t what it used to be. But then, every food enthusiast knows, when the going gets tough, the tough get cooking. I introduced my cherished dish to my latest kitchen companion – the Instant Pot. With the Instant Pot’s prowess, the hours-long cooking time is now slashed to under sixty minutes. Just imagine: within an hour, you could be diving into tender beef chunks enveloped in a rich sauce, perfect atop steamed rice.
Note: If the idea of beef tendon doesn’t charm you, worry not. Opt for beef chuck, tweak the broth to ⅔ cup, and adjust your Instant Pot time to 20 minutes. The results will be equally mesmerizing.
For those with smaller Instant Pots (less than 8 qt.), consider halving the recipe for the best outcome.
- 3 1/2 pounds beef outside flank or rough flank (Alternative: beef brisket or chuck, chunked into 2-inch pieces)
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 shallots, finely diced
- 3 bay leaves
- ⅓ cup curry spice blend
- 1 teaspoon turmeric essence
- 2 cups choice of beef broth, chicken broth, or water
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt (adjust as needed)
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 large onions, segmented
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch (mix with 1 tablespoon water for a slurry)
Steps to Perfection
- Begin by blanching the beef chunks in boiling water for a minute to purify. Drain, rinse, and reserve.
- Engage the sauté mode on your Instant Pot. Infuse ¼ cup oil with garlic, shallots, and bay leaves. Soon after, introduce curry and turmeric, ensuring a consistent mix and preventing any burn.
- Introduce beef, your choice of liquid (use ⅔ cup for beef chuck), sugar, salt, and tomato puree. Secure the Instant Pot and set it to the meat stew mode for 45 minutes (or 30 minutes for beef chuck).
- Concurrently, lightly sauté onion segments in a tablespoon of oil for about two minutes, retaining some crunch. Set aside.
- Once the Instant Pot cycle concludes, switch to sauté mode. Introduce the cornstarch slurry for sauce consistency. If you crave a thicker consistency, simply add more slurry. Conclude by blending in the sautéed onions. Taste, and season if required. Serve over a fluffy bed of rice and enjoy the bliss of homemade delicacy.