Spicy Thai Basil Beef

I love Thai food, but it's taken a lot of practice to make decent home versions. I've made several curries on this blog, about half of them Thai, and one recipe for one of my favorite dishes basil chicken/beef. My first version was with chicken, but I thought it was about time that I tackled the beef version (plus I wanted to use the Thai basil I recently planted in my little herb garden)! Not only that, I'm giving myself an extra challenge of making sure it's Paleo and conforms to Whole 30, which I've just started. To do that I just bought my first bottle of coconut aminos to take the place of my usual wheat-free tamari, which is still made of soy even though it's wheat free (and it's also technically a Primal ingredient, not strict Paleo). I was really afraid the coconut aminos would smell nasty or taste gross, but it smells exactly like cream sherry to me! Considering sherry is commonly used in American-style Chinese dishes, I knew it would taste great. Of course, most Thai food has palm sugar, which isn't the most heinous form of sweetener compared to some out there, but that's no good for Whole 30. To be honest, I didn't find this dish needed extra sweetness because I used coconut oil for stir-frying, which has a natural sweetness from the essence of coconut. I'm so pleased with this recipe because I not only met the challenges going into making it, it tastes great and I also feel like it shows I've come a long way since the first time I tried to make Thai-ish food.

This recipe is a good use of grass-fed ground beef, which is typically a lot cheaper and I stock up on a lot of it! You can also use finely chopped beef, too, or probably chicken and even seafood like shrimp and scallops.

Cauliflower rice makes the perfect grain-free side dish. To make cauliflower rice, just grate a head of cauliflower with the large hole of a box grater. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat, then add the cauliflower and season with black pepper (go easy on the salt because you're serving the rice with stir-fry that has salty fish sauce in it) and cook, stirring often, until it's softened. I love how sweet cauliflower becomes once it's cooked in the coconut oil!

A mountain of cauliflower cooks down a lot when you make cauliflower rice!

Spicy Thai Basil Beef
Printable Recipe 

3 large or 4 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp peeled, chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh lemongrass
pinch dried red chilies, to taste (optional)
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut on the bias into bite-sized lengths
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lb ground beef, preferably grass-fed
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp coconut aminos (can use wheat-free tamari for Primal)
1/2 cup loosely-packed torn Thai basil leaves
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Be sure to have all ingredients chopped and ready before cooking the stir-fry.
2. In a mini chopped/food processor, add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and chili and pulse to make a rough paste. Set aside.
3. Heat half of the oil over medium-high heat. Keep your prepared vegetables to the side so you can easily add them. Add the green beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until the outsides turn from opaque and light green to a darker green. Add the peppers and onions and stir-fry until the onions just become translucent. Remove the vegetables to the side.

Don't stop the cooking process to chop veggies...have them ready and waiting for you for the best flavor in your stir-fry
4. Reduce the heat to medium. (At this point, I started the cauliflower rice in another pan) Add the rest of the oil and once heated, add the spice paste and stir-fry for a minute. Then, add the beef and crumble it with a spoon while it cooks, raising the heat back to medium-high as needed.
5. Return the vegetables to the pan, then add the fish sauce, lime juice, and coconut aminos and stir to combine. Add the basil leaves and cook until they wilt. Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.

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