Saturday, August 29, 2015

Panang Curry

Panang Curry is my culinary white whale. I've been working at it since getting back from Thailand and it never turns out quite right. This last version is not 100% perfect, but I got so close I'm excited enough about it to post. For those of you in the DC area, you should know that the goal Panang Curry can be found for sub-$15 at Ruan Thai in Wheaton, Maryland. Run, don't walk if you have not been there yet. 
This recipe is adapted from the Basil Cooking School of Chiang Mai, Thailand's cookbook provided at their cooking class. If you find yourself in Chiang Mai, I highly recommend it! 

The Paste
The paste is the core of the curry. I suggest making a bunch of it and freezing so that you can pull it out on a weeknight and whip up a quick curry dish. The paste is the labor of love and once that's done, it's all downhill. Plan on at least 45 minutes to make the paste.

5 large red chillies, chopped into the tiniest of pieces (dried or fresh, if using dry soak them first)
2 tbsp shallot, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tsp galangal, chopped (available at most asian markets and no, there is no substitute)
1 tbsp lemongrass, chopped
1/2 tbsp lime skin (kaffir if you can find it)
5 pepper corns
10 coriander seeds
1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp shrimp paste
In a large mortar, pound cumin, coriander seeds, and pepper corns. Once they are largely mashed, add chillies and salt. The more you've finely chopped the chillies, the easier this step will be. Once the chillies are resembling a paste, add all remaining ingredients except shrimp paste. Continue to pound until it forms a paste.

Panang Curry

2 tbsp panang curry paste
1/2 cup protein of your choice (chicken, tofu, etc)
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce (you can substitute a tbsp of salt if you don't have fish sauce)
1 tsp sugar (preferably palm sugar)
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 small eggplant, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup broccoli
1 tbsp coconut oil (use olive oil or vegetable oil if you prefer)
1 tsp salt

Sautee the vegetables in coconut oil with tsp of salt until cooked to desired texture, remove from pan.
Add 1/2 cup (that's only 1/2 of the coconut milk!) to a wok on high heat and bring to a boil. Add panang curry paste and stir until red oil droplets start to appear on the surface of the coconut milk (about 3 minutes) Add protein and cook about 6 minutes until meat or tofu is all the way cooked, add the remaining coconut milk and the cooked vegetables and keep stirring. After 5 minutes of cooking everything together, add the fish sauce (or salt) and sugar. Serve immediately over rice of your choice.

This is where I will confess that I ate it all before I could take a picture! I will update the post with a picture the next time I make it, but wanted to post the major milestone in my pursuit of the elusive panang curry ASAP. Enjoy!

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