Green curry used to be my most favorite curry. We can cook green curry in many different ways, and get different tastes and styles. For example, using bamboo shoots with beef in green curry will give a different feeling from using eggplant and chicken. Maybe that is what I like about green curry, the variations. Now I changed my mind to ‘Panang Curry’. This is a thicker curry with a very intense flavor and aroma. Since the beef is slowly cooked, the heat brings out the best beef taste in the curry. As a beef lover, I am dying for this dish.
Panang curry is one of the Thai dishes influenced by Islamic cuisines, including Indian, Persian, and Malaysian. Similar to Massaman curry paste, Panang curry paste contains a mixture of cumin and coriander seed which are commonly used in Islamic cuisines. It did not surprise me that when my husband made chicken Kebab at home, using Panang curry paste with some other ingredients to marinate the meat, it turned out great! Thai Panang curry paste also has local herbs such as galangal, lemongrass, Makrut lime skin, garlic, and shrimp paste added to it. While researching, some sources believed that Panang curry used to be a grilled food, like grilled chicken. This information reminds me of the Kebab we made at home, using the curry paste and the grilling technique with meat. However, there is no clear evidence that Panang curry was for grilling and turned into curry later. As I mentioned earlier, Panang curry is not a watery curry because it usually needs a long cooking time on the stove for the beef to be tender, so most of the liquid evaporates.
In Thailand, you can find Panang in the street food stores like “Khaw Gang” style. Khaw Gang means rice and curry. They serve a choice of curry or stir fry over white rice, considered as fast food for Thai people. Panang curry can be beef, chicken, or pork. Most street food vendors usually have chicken or pork, since beef is more expensive. Turkey berry is commonly added to Panang curry along with a mild red pepper and kaffir lime leaves. It is hard to find the turkey berry abroad but it doesn’t affect the taste much without it.
Here is my mom’s secret technique that enriches the flavor. She stir fries the beef slices with fish sauce and palm sugar before adding them into the curry paste. This method will give flavor to the beef and enrich the whole pot. I use an instant Panang curry paste “Maesri” brand. There are many different kinds of curry and soup base from this brand. I tried some and they are all good! One of the important parts is finding good quality beef. It should be tender and have some beef fat. The fat will add beef flavor and aroma to the curry. If the beef you have is too tough, just try to cook it longer.
Panang curry paste ½ can
Coconut milk 1 cup
Fish sauce 2 tsp
Palm sugar 2 tsp
Tamarind sauce 1 tbsp
Makrut lime leaves (Kaffir lime leaves) thinly slivered
- Preheat the pan with oil on medium heat. Add beef slices. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Then add fish sauce and palm sugar.
2. When the beef is cooked, add the Panang curry paste and stir. Add some coconut milk to loosen the paste. Stir until the beef is evenly coated.
3. After 5 minutes, add the rest of the coconut milk and cook for another 10 minutes.
4. Add tamarind sauce. Stir along the cook process to avoid burning at the bottom. Note: I use tamarind sauce in order to add another depth to my curry.
5. Lower the heat and cook until the curry is thickened. You should taste it before serving. Most instant curry paste already added salt and sugar. You can adjust the taste to how you like it. Panang curry is salty and sweet.
6. Garnish with shredded Makrut leaves. Serve with warm jasmine rice.