One of my favorite dishes at our local favorite Thai restaurant Baan Thai, is the Panang Curry, listed on their menu as Not Watery. It’s delicious, and I’ve always loved that description. Unlike some other Thai curries which are more soupy, Panang is a thicker, saucy curry. I’ve been trying out more Asian dishes at home lately, and have been wanting to make Panang Curry. Turns out it’s pretty easy.
I am still waiting for the wok that I ordered from The Wok Shop to arrive, but I do have a carbon steel sauté pan so I decided to use that to try out this recipe. It worked well, but the wok will be even better so that my ingredients don’t fly out of the pan! I found a version that I thought looked good from Hot Thai Kitchen, gathered my ingredients, and started the dish. It starts with adding some ingredients to a store-bought curry paste. I couldn’t find any fermented shrimp paste in the store, so I skipped that, but will order it online for next time.
It’s important in Asian cooking to prepare all of your ingredients before you start cooking, because the actual cooking goes very quickly. I sliced up some flank steak and tossed it with a little canola oil and fish sauce, then sliced up my red bell pepper and Makrut lime leaves, measured out my coconut milk and started cooking.
The final dish was delicious! I used a bit more beef than the original recipe suggested, since I wanted to make sure we had leftovers for lunch the next day. I only added three tablespoons of the curry paste, but next time I will add four for a little extra spice, and maybe also throw in some Thai basil, like our restaurant does. I might try other proteins too – we often order this with chicken at the restaurant.
Panang Beef Curry
For the Panang Beef Curry:
- ¾ lb beef, very thinly sliced against the grain I used 1 lb flank steak
- 1 ½ tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp oil peanut, grapeseed, canola, or other high smoke-point oil
- ¾ + ½ cup cup coconut milk
- 1 recipe semi-homemade panang curry paste recipe follows
- 10 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves 7 roughly torn, 3 finely julienned
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ½ red bell pepper thinly sliced
- Jasmine rice for serving
For the Semi-Homemade Panang Curry Paste:
- 3-4 tbsp red curry paste
- ¾ tsp toasted cumin seeds
- 1 ½ tsp toasted coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp roasted peanuts unsalted (if allergic, sub another type of nuts or seeds)
- 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste optional, only if the red curry paste doesn’t already have it
For the semi-homemade panang curry paste:
- Grind the cumin and coriander seeds until very fine using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder.
- Add roasted peanuts and grind until fine.
- Mix the red curry paste and shrimp paste into the ground spice mixture.
For the Curry:
- Add 1 ½ tsp fish sauce and oil to beef and massage it in with your hands, separating the pieces of beef that are stuck together as you mix.
- In a saute pan or a wok over medium high heat, reduce ¾ cup coconut milk until thickened and creamy.
- Stir in curry paste and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the paste for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until coconut oil separates away from the paste. If the paste sticks to the pan, you can deglaze with a bit of the remaining coconut milk.
- Add sugar and torn kaffir lime leaves and cook for a minute or so until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add beef and red bell peppers, and quickly toss it with the curry paste, separating the pieces of beef as much as you can.
- Once the beef is about 50% cooked, add the remaining coconut milk and stir for 30 more seconds or just until the beef is fully cooked. If it looks too dry, you can add a splash of water at this point.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with more fish sauce and/or sugar as needed.
- Garnish with julienned kaffir lime leaves and more red peppers as desired.
- Serve with jasmine rice.