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Add some spice to the classic American comfort food! The flavours of all the warm spices in massaman curry goes so well with the meatloaf. The curry paste gets added into the beef itself, but the "icing on the cake" is the rich and creamy massaman curry sauce on top. Since massaman curry always comes with potato, I chose to add chunks of tender potatoes throughout the meatloaf which gave it a terrific creaminess to mellow out the spice.
The Quick-Fix Massaman Curry Paste
You can find premade massaman curry paste at some Asian grocery stores, but in general it tends to be hard to find. The good news is, you can easily turn red curry paste, which is available at most stores, into massaman curry paste with just a few addition of dry spices! I've provided the recipe for this quick-fix "semi-homemade" massaman curry paste below.
Do Ahead Tips
You can mix the meatloaf the day before and just bake it on the day. Since the sauce doesn't need to be baked with the meatloaf like the classic version, you can make the sauce while the meatloaf is baking. You can also just bake it a day ahead and reheat when ready to serve, though I suggest keeping the sauce separate and pouring it on once the meatloaf is heated; it'll look nicer that way!
- 150 g potato, peeled and diced 1 cm (see note)
- A pinch of salt
- ¾ cup coconut milk, divided
- 1 recipe semi-homemade massaman curry paste (recipe below) or 50g store-bought massaman curry paste
- 1 lb (450g) lean ground beef
- 1 cup chopped onion, about half a large onion
- ½ cup dry bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
- 1 ½ Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp cooking tamarind, or sub 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or a squeeze of lime (see note)
- Julienned red bell pepper for garnish: optional.
- Jasmine rice for serving (or another side of your choice)
- ⅓ cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp cooking tamarind, or sub 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1-3 tsp fish sauce, as needed (see note)
- ¼ cups roasted peanuts, unsalted
Semi-Homemade massaman curry paste
Simply combine the following together:
- 50g Thai red curry paste
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- I prefer waxy potatoes which are less likely to become mushy. If using russet, be very careful not to overcook it.
- You can buy cooking tamarind at Asian grocery stores; they are labeled “tamarind paste” or “tamarind concentrate”. Look for tamarind from Thailand or Vietnam; do not use one from India as it’s a lot more concentrated.
- Amount of fish sauce needed depends on how salty the curry paste is, so it’s important to taste and adjust.
For the Meatloaf:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Add potatoes to a pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or just until a fork can be inserted with no resistance; be careful not to overcook. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a medium saute pan, bring ½ cup coconut milk to a boil over medium high heat. Add curry paste and stir to mix, then keep cooking and stirring until it’s very thick and pasty. Remove half of this mixture and set it aside—this will be used for the sauce.
- With the other half of curry paste in the pan, add onion and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. (No need to wash the pan as you’ll use it to make the sauce.)
- In a large mixing bowl, add beef, bread crumbs, egg, ¼ cup coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, tamarind, and the sauteed curry paste and onion; knead just until well combined. Do not overmix.
- Cook off a small amount of the beef to check for seasoning; you can simply microwave a couple of tablespoons for about 30 seconds. If it needs more saltiness, add more fish sauce.
- Add potato and gently fold them in with your hands until evenly distributed, being careful not to mush the potatoes. (Note: If you have accidentally overcooked the potatoes and they are really soft, don’t mix them in as you will end up mashing them. Instead, try “layering” them alternating with the beef right into the loaf pan.)
- Put the mixture tightly into a greased 8”x4” loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 mins or until the internal temp reaches a minimum of 155°F. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
For the sauce:
- Pound the peanuts using a mortar and pestle, or chop them, until the largest pieces are no larger than ⅛ inch.
- With the curry paste you have saved, put it back in the pan and add ⅓ cup coconut milk, brown sugar and tamarind. Mix well and bring to a boil, then keep cooking until it is thick enough to coat the meatloaf without running.
- Stir in the peanuts, then taste and add fish sauce as needed.
- Unmold the meatloaf or leave it in the pan for serving. Pour the sauce over the finished meatloaf. Garnish with the bell pepper if desired. If you have extra sauce, serve it on the side in case you want more.
- Serve with jasmine rice or a side of your choice.