I have a culinary confession to make. I honestly don't know much about Asian food. We have a Chinese buffet in my little hometown, but we almost never went there when I was growing up. It had a less than stellar reputation. I'm talking about rumors of cats in freezers kind of reputation. We would occasionally have Chinese food when we went out of town and my dad would pick where we ate. And I never thought I liked Chinese food until I tried Panda Express, which I imagine is about as authentic Chinese as a Big Mac. But who doesn't love that sweet and sticky orange chicken?
I didn't have Thai food until college, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have had it since. Because of my lack of experience with Asian cuisine, I couldn't really tell Chinese food from Thai food from Vietnamese food from my elbow. My understanding of Thai food is that it is spicy and it often has a peanut sauce. That's it. With that being said, I can't really tell you if this spicy Thai beef dish is actually good Thai food. But I can tell you that it is good food! It is easy and delicious with a little kick of spice and a little tang thanks to lime juice and ginger.
Preparation-wise, this dish was very similar to one of my favorites, and the only Chinese food I know how to make, easy beef stir fry. That means it only requires cutting up and sauteing some beef, making a simple sauce, and sauteing some veggies. Trust me, you don't have to be a top notch Asian chef to whip up this easy recipe. This is a great weeknight recipe because it takes a half an hour or less from start to finish.
I made this dish without telling my husband about it, and I was a little nervous about how it would go over because he hasn't been head over heels with Thai food the few times we have had it. But he was a good sport about it, and actually really liked it. This delicious meal is definitely making its way into our regular dinner rotation!
One last note about this dish is that I served it with whole wheat spaghetti noodles because I like to be multicultural like that (actually that was what I had around and they are quick to cook). But it could also be served over brown rice, with wonton wrappers, or over another type of noodle (I think angel hair pasta would have been good too). The recipe I used also had other options for toppings, some of which sounded pretty tasty. So feel fee to personalize this as you wish.
Whatever you put on this beef, or put the beef on, I think you will agree that it is pretty darn tasty. And whether or not you agree that this is really "Thai" food, I think you will still agree that this is pretty darn tasty. And now that I have established that this easy dish is pretty darn tasty, I hope you will put it on your dinner menu ASAP!
Spicy Thai Beef
1 lb minute or flank steak, sliced into strips
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8- 1/4 tsp crush ground pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 large red pepper, sliced
Baked wonton wrappers, spaghetti, rice, or any type of noodles
Optional toppings: shredded carrots, cucumber slices, sliced green onion, sliced fresh pea pods, sliced basil or cilantro, shelled edamame, pickled ginger, lime wedges
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add beef and cook about 5 minutes, or until browned.
Meanwhile, combine water, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic powder, ground ginger, and red pepper. Stir peanut butter mixture into beef and add red pepper. Continue to cook about 3 minutes until red pepper strips are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
Evenly divide beef mixture over six wonton triangles or cooked noodles or rice. Garnish with toppings, if desired.
Recipe adapted from Kansas Beef Council