Cambodian Beef Curry

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup Csmbodian yellow curry paste
2 lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooked white rice, for serving
Lotus leaves, for serving (optional)
1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts

In a small saucepan, bring the oil and shallot to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the shallot is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the shallot from the oil and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the oil and discard the rest.

In a large saucepan, heat the reserved oil over medium. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant and beginning to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beef and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to keep anything from burning on the bottom of the pan, until the beef is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and season the curry with salt and pepper.

Serve the curry over cooked rice in a lotus leaf, if you like, or in a large bowl. Garnish with the fried shallot and peanuts.

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