This dish has been a staple in our family for as long as I can remember. What I’ve discovered, however, is that it’s been incredibly difficult to cook a good one since moving to Thailand.
I’ve tried, a handful of times, and the results haven’t been good at all.
With everyone in #iso and displaying their creations on Twitter, I was determined to right this wrong.
As it turns out we were spoiled in Australia. You could just pop into your local butchers’ shop and grab top-quality beef strips, take em home and whip up this dish pretty quickly on a cold winters night.
Not so in Thailand where beef is expensive and good quality beef is really expensive.
If you’re anything like me spending 60 bucks on a cut of meat for a midweek dish is out of the question.
There must be another way! There is – you need to invest time properly preparing the beef prior to cooking.
I did some research. Following these steps made a real difference and all-up it cost about 200 baht per head. Nice.
Prepare the beef
I went with a 400g Thai-French Round steak. If you know your cuts of beef, Round isn’t one of the most tender cuts and needs prior preparation.
I took to the steak with a meat tenderisor and gave it a light pound on both sides before rubbing salt into the surface. Just regular iodized salt. Then left it for 40 minutes covered in cling wrap out of the fridge.
Cut the beef into strips then fry in batches.
When you cut the beef into strips you must cut across the grain. Basically this involves identifying the ‘grain’ and cutting perpendicular to it. There are plenty of videos out there if you need help.
Cook the beef strips in batches, i.e. don’t overcrowd the pan otherwise the meat will stew. I used olive oil and just cooked each batch of strips until they were brown on both sides. Then remove them and drain on some paper towel before starting the next batch.
I’m using my Le Creuset cast iron pot for this one. Luckily, I got the blue one in the divorce settlement (would have preferred the red!)
Cook mushrooms, onion and garlic
This dish will be much better if you pimp it out using real shrooms, onions and, most importantly, fresh garlic.
I don’t have a garlic press so I just peel the garlic and place it in a ziplock bag then pound it with my meat tendorizor to release the juices. There is some debate over whether one should press garlic. I guess you know where I stand.
Saute the lot on medium heat until the mushrooms look tender. Take deep breaths of that heavenly scent of onions and garlic cooking together!
Return cooked strips to pan, add packet mix and simmer for 15 minutes
Some swear by a DIY approach. Others have a favourite packet mix.
There are many stroganoff packet mixes on the market but I only noticed them appearing on the shelves here in Thailand a few years back.
This time around I went with the ‘Durkee’ packet mix and was very happy with the results.
Pro-tip: Sift the packet mix into the pot. It will combine much quicker and result in a smoother sauce.
Don’t forget to add water. I use bottled water. Check the packet, typically one cup of water is required.
I’m a big believer that even if you use a packet mix you need to pimp it out a little.
I added two heaped teaspoons of paprika and two teaspoons of tomato paste to round out the flavor profile.
Remember the beef is already cooked so once the sauce is combined don’t overcook the dish.
Kill heat and let sit for 30 minutes
Sure you could skip this step if time-pressed but I suggest you shouldn’t. It takes time for flavors to develop and you don’t want to overcook the beef.
Having said that, this dish is best served when cooked, not as good the next day.
Reheat for 10 minutes, add sour cream then serve
This is just a reheat before plating up. No more than 10 minutes and kill the heat before adding the sour cream. You don’t need too much. I used a 230g tub. Mix well.
Serve with pasta or rice, a little fresh parsely and a good glass of red. Enjoy!
Rice, or pasta?
For me, rice.
Back in Oz I would cook pasta mainly because we didn’t have rice cooker.
If using pasta I suggest a flat variety like linguini or bow-ties. They were my go-to options back in the day.