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Apr 16, 2019
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WINE WITH…Thai Style Beef Stew

We are fortunate to live a block away from a Thai restaurant, where we frequently get to savor some of the unique flavors of this distinctive and diverse cuisine.  At “My Thai” we’ve learned that an authentic Thai dish must include balanced amounts of the four “S” tastes: salt, sweet, spicy and sour.  Typical Thai food combines protein (poultry, meat or fish), carbohydrate (rice or noodles) and vegetables all in one dish, generally presented as a soup or stew.  Spices, notably ginger, galangal (an aromatic root), and red, green or yellow curry are important components, while hot spice in the form of dried chili flakes, sliced fresh hot peppers, and/or a fiery sauce such as Sriracha are ubiquitous.  Numerous types of fish sauce commonly contribute notes of umami, while the refreshing acidity of limes and tamarind counterbalance the heat.  Fresh herbs and spices including cilantro, lemongrass, Thai basil (or, in a pinch, regular basil), mint, garlic, and turmeric all add their special magic.

Before we moved to this neighborhood we had pretty much stopped going to Thai restaurants because we found the food tended to be too sweet.  A Thai acquaintance once suggested that to avoid this problem we should always tell the server we wanted “Thai style rather than American style food,” but we had only occasional success with this ploy.  Happily, the made-to-order food at “My Thai” is seldom overly sweet, and the restaurant’s Thai-born chef/owner Pui Wales is also conscientious about tailoring orders to each guest’s individual tolerance for hot spice.  Our only complaint at “My Thai” is the uninspired wine list—and that’s why we occasionally make dishes such as this beef stew at home.

Thai Style Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

Serve the dish in a bowl with Thai noodles or rice.  Be sure to have a bottle of hot sauce on the table.  A bowl of peanuts is an optional garnish that adds extra flavor and texture to the stew.

Preheat the oven to 350°

1 pound beef stew meat cut in 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 serrano or other hot pepper seeded and minced
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon Nam Prik Pao (or other chili paste)
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut in 3-4 inch pieces
1-3 zucchini, sliced
8 ounces peas, fresh or frozen
Minced fresh cilantro and/or mint for garnish

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Place one tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven or other deep roasting pan.  Stir in the meat to coat it with oil and roast it, stirring once or twice, for about 15 minutes or until it is browned. 

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric and hot pepper.  Shake the can of coconut milk before opening it; then pour the contents into the pan.  Add the lime juice, fish sauce, chili paste and carrots. and then return the pan, covered, to the oven.  After about 30 minutes, add the zucchini and peas and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are tender.  Serve the stew with rice or noodles and garnish with the minced fresh herbs.

*         *         *

Exclusively white wine drinkers might choose a light, sparkling wine such as Prosecco with this dish, or perhaps a rich Riesling with notes of sweetness to tame the spice. Most of us, however, preferred red wines that offered a fair amount of sweet fruit flavor and soft tannins.  They simply felt and tasted more substantial.

Connect  on Twitter:   @M_L_Thomas  and  @Wine_With_
More recipes and wine pairings:    Wine With...  

Daniel Bouland,

Morgon Beaujolais


“Corcelette Vineyard”


(Imported by Weygandt-Metzler)





This fine and classic Beaujolais cru offers a silky texture, sweet fruit, and crisp acidity, making it a perfect wine for pairing with the multitude of textures and flavors in the dish.




Dry Creek Vineyard,     

Dry Creek Valley




“Old Vine 








Teeming with a heady blend of berries, pepper and spice, the complex amalgam of flavors and the rich, supple mouthfeel made this Zinfandel a favorite among our four tasters.










Central Coast (California)

Pinot Noir

“Estate Vineyards”








Not particularly complex, this unabashed Pinot fairly overflows with ripe fruit cherry fruit flavor.  That quite sweet fruit connected nicely with the stew’s spice and its rich coconut milk flavors.






Château de Ségriès



(Imported by KyselaPere et Fils)







Beautifully balanced, this is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% each Carignan and Cinsault.  Its medium weight, soothing warmth, and appetizing fruitiness hit the right notes with the varied flavor elements in the dish.






“Persona Non Grata,”

Lake County


Red Wine






An unconventional mix of Zinfandel, Merlot and Syrah, this soft and savory red blend seems made for any beef stew.  It’s very inviting.