April 28, 2008

Panang Curry by Guest Chef Nanette

This is my all time favorite thai curry. It's not soupy like other curries, but more of a thick sauce. I make it using curry packets from the Asian market, and that way cut out steps 1-7. Your local Asian market should have panang curry paste. The Thais all used the mae ploy brand, so buy that if they have it. If not, I'm sure they're all pretty similar. Despite all of the weird sounding ingredients, this dish is actually pretty easy to make. You basically just throw the paste, coconut milk, chicken, and a few other things in a pan, and let it simmer. If you use the paste, I'd recommend buying a few lemongrass stalks. I usually cut 2 stalks into 1 inch pieces, and then whack them with the back of a knife to open them a little, and then throw them in after I add all of the coconut milk. It adds a little freshness. Also, if you go to http://www.realthairecipes.com/recipes/panang-curry/ , there are step by step photos to accompany the recipe.


  • 1 can coconut cream (if you can't find coconut cream, coconut milk will work)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded lime leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon palm sugar
  • 2 cups sliced beef or pork
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

For the curry paste:

  • 1/3 cup big dried chilies, soaked until soft with seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons galangal, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass, cut into thin rounds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander root
  • 1 teaspoon toasted coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 2 tablespoons shallots
  • 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste


  1. The first step is to make the curry paste. Start by soaking the chilies in water until they're soft. This could take up to a half hour. When they're soft, cut them open to remove the guts & seeds.
  2. Toast the cumin seeds, cilantro seeds and peanuts separately in a pan over medium heat. Roast each until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Grind up the seeds together in a stone mortar & pestle until powdered. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add your chilies with the salt to the stone mortar & pestle and pound until a paste. This will take awhile ― the skins are difficult to mash. Be patient.
  5. When your chilies are a uniform paste, add the lemongrass. Pound until a paste. Then add the galangal and coriander roots, and again, smash until paste.
  6. Add the peanuts, shallots, garlic and your powdered cumin & cilantro seeds. Mash until paste. Add the shrimp paste and pound to mix well. Set aside.
-------------start here if you're using the store bought paste-----------------------
  1. Now, on to frying your curry! Heat up your pan first on medium-high heat, then add 1/2 cup of the coconut cream. It should sizzle right away and boil. Add all the paste and mix well.
  2. Cut your meat cross-grain into thin slices (about 1.5″ (4cm) long x 1/2″ (1.25cm) tall x 1/8″ (.25cm) thick).
  3. Fry the paste. You want to keep the paste dry, but not too dry that it sticks and burns. Keep adding a little bit of coconut milk when it gets too dry, maybe about 1/4 cup every minute or two. Keep stirring so it doesn't burn.
  4. Keep adding coconut cream about 1/4 cup at a time, every minute or two. You should start to see a lot of oil coming to the top of the curry. This is normal and a sign that you're doing it right!
  5. Your paste should start to smell really good after 4-5 minutes. You'll start to see a lot of oil rising to the top, especially where it's bubbling. When it does, add your meat.
  6. Cook the meat until cooked, add the lime leaves, palm sugar, and fish sauce, then keep going about 3-5 minutes so the meat is soft. The consistency of the curry should be similar to the photo. If it's too dry, add a bit more of the coconut milk. Remove and serve.
Check tomorrow for a great spring roll recipe to accompany this dish!

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