I strongly believe that trying new restaurants is key in my line of work. It's how I learn. It's also what inspires me to create new recipes. Several months ago, I had the chance to try Nari, a modern Thai restaurant in San Francisco. I was so impressed with the complexity of their dishes that I immediately wanted to go home and recreate those flavors. Well, my curry beef empanadas aren't exactly like theirs but I thoroughly enjoyed them! Flavorful beef is stuffed inside flaky puff pastry and served with a red curry dipping sauce for a fantastic side or appetizer.
Curry Beef Empanadas
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Thai chile minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Curry dipping sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Make beef filling. Heat large saute pan over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and drain all but 1 tablespoon of rendered fat.
- Add onion, garlic, Thai chile, ginger, and lemongrass to same pan and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add back beef along with fish sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, lime juice, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make curry dipping sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepot. Add red curry paste, garlic, and ginger and saute until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer until broth is reduced by half. Add coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, and fish and continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Set aside and keep warm.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Lightly dust a clean work counter with flour. Roll puff pastry until you can cut 8 4-inch circles. Fill each portion with about 2 tablespoons beef filling and brush the edges with egg wash. Fold in half to create a half moon shape and press edges together. Use fork to crimp edges. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and filling.
- Place empanadas on a lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve with warm curry dipping sauce.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Whenever I make empanadas, I make the dough myself. However, after trying Nari's beef empanadas made with puff pastry, I decided to follow in their footsteps. This also means, one less step to take so it's a win-win in my book.
Since we're not making the dough, we can go straight to cooking the filling. I used ground beef but you can also use ground chicken, pork, or turkey.
Saute the ground beef until browned and set it aside. Drain all but one tablespoon of the fat, then saute the onion and aromatics.
Add back the beef along with the seasonings including fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, and black pepper. I wanted to season the beef similar to Thai basil chicken with a balance of salt, sugar, and acid. If you're not a fan of fish sauce, you can use soy sauce instead.
Simmer the beef until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and set it aside to cool. You can prepare the beef filling the night before if you prefer.
While the beef is resting, prepare the curry dipping sauce. Nari serves their empanadas with a massaman curry but I'm not very knowledgeable about this particular curry. And so, I decided to prepare a curry that I'm more familiar with, red curry. With the help of store-bought red curry paste, this dipping sauce comes together quickly.
Saute the red curry paste along with garlic, and ginger until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and let it simmer until it's reduced by half. Since it's not that much chicken broth, it shouldn't take too long.
Then, add coconut milk along with the seasonings and continue to simmer the sauce until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Give the sauce a final seasoning and set it aside while you return to the curry beef empanadas. You can also make the sauce the night before.
Now let's get back to making the pastries. Lightly dust a clean work counter with flour and roll out the puff pastry sheet until you can cut 8 4-inch circles. You want to be able to cut 2 rows of 4 circles. The pastry sheet will be thin, about 1/16-inch thick but don't worry because it'll be thick enough for the empanadas.
Fill each of the rounds with about 2 tablespoons of the beef filling and brush egg wash on the edges. Fold over the dough and press together the edges to seal.
Next, crimp the edges using a fork. Place the empanadas on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Brush egg wash on the tops of the pastries and bake them for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve the curry beef empanadas with the warm red curry dipping sauce and enjoy!
I already had an idea of what these savory pastries would taste like because I tried the filling beforehand. And yet I was still pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were. The flavor of the beef is subtle but when you pair it with the red curry sauce, it's sublime. And I'll admit, I think the puff pastry was the right way to go.
For more curry inspiration check out this saffron meatball korma curry!