You know that feeling you get when the many places you’ve been and the many tastes and smells you’ve experienced suddenly collide in a single moment out of time? Mussaman Corned Beef is fusion deja vu. I was in Thailand many years ago and had the wonderful experience of eating Mussaman curry in a cafe overlooking the ocean on an island in the Gulf of Thailand. Now combine that with snowy cold winter Sundays from my childhood spent eating our farm-raised and cured corned beef for St Patricks Day on our little ranch in Northern California. It’s time travel, or taste travel if you will. Last Sunday night as I took a bite of bright pink beef, inhaling the fragrantly spicy Thai broth, one voice in my head said “Far, Far Away” and the other said “Home.”
Mussaman Corned Beef is a fusion of Southern Thai inspired Mussaman (already a mashup of Muslim/Indian/Thai) meets traditional Corned Beef (also a blend of American/German/Irish). If you’ve had Mussaman curry before, you know it’s a creamy, spicy, yellow affair of coconut milk, beef, potatoes and curry powder, laced with Thai aromatics. My recipe has everything except the coconut. I’ve left the spices whole in the same way that traditional pickling spices are whole, with the exception of the curry powder and turmeric. The spices are surprisingly similar in both versions, but the aromatics like lemongrass, shallots and fish sauce, put this recipe squarely center of both camps. While there are a lot of ingredients and steps, but each you can take your time with each section of the recipe and cook at your own pace. I truly hope you try this dish and enjoy the experience as much as I did. The resulting corned beef was fantastic.