When I go out to dinner with friends these days, they very thoughtfully avoid Thai restaurants, thinking that nothing beats home-cooked Thai food. And while that’s certainly true, I actually don’t mind eating at authentic Thai restaurants because it gives me the opportunity to try various Thai dishes that I just haven’t had before… like panang curry. Yes, I have to admit it’s true that I had never eaten panang curry prior to a few weeks ago!
Knowing this deficiency in my Thai food repertoire, I set out with the boyfriend as my eager accomplice one weekend on a panang curry expedition — with the goal of trying as many plates of this curry as we could handle in one day! We tasted a lot of different panang curries – some were rich and peanuty with just meat coated in the mild curry sauce and others were thinner and more fragrant with meat, fresh vegetables, and Thai basil. All were delicious.
I came back home with the goal of recreating my favorite panang curry of the day, which was rich and peanuty yet surprisingly fragrant with the aroma of kaffir lime leaves. I started by dry roasting some peanuts and pounding them into our favorite brand of Thai panang curry paste.
Then I followed the general protocol for most Thai curries – heat the thicker part of the coconut milk over medium heat until it just starts to bubble and separate, add the curry paste, cook the meat, add more coconut milk and/or water, and adjust the seasonings. I made my curry with the traditional choice of beef, which required more water and a longer cooking time to become nice and tender. Once the beef was tender, I added a handful of thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves and that was it!
Our panang curry turned out wonderfully, so I have to say that our expedition to find, taste, and recreate a delicous panang curry was a success! Perhaps one of these days, though, our food journey will take us back to Thailand herself for a more complete sampling of the country’s cuisine.