With the perfect amount of heat, some hint of sweetness, and lots of savory deliciousness, this Thai Ground Beef or Pork Curry is deliciously comforting! It's easy to make so it's perfect for weeknight dinners!
Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, process the chilis, onion or shallot, garlic, ginger, and cilantro roots or stems, to a paste. Add the shrimp paste to the spice paste, if using. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet to medium. Add the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes or until the paste begins to release its oil and has darkened in color. (If you use the mortar and pestle, oil bubbles would be more likely to be released than if using a food processor.) Add the ground meat, increase the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Season the meat with fish sauce.
Add the water and crushed tomatoes and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and the meat is fully tender.
Season with the tamarind concentrate or lime juice and sugar and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed - you should taste hints sweetness, saltiness, slight tartness and, of course, some spicy kick. The aim is to balance these flavors. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh cilantro leaves. Serve on top of rice or noodles!
For more flavor, use the mortar and pestle to make the paste - worth the elbow grease because by grinding the spice through pounding, it releases the oils and flavors from the spices.