Panang, Penang or Phanaeng curry is a milder curry from Thailand – characterized by the use of coconut milk and peanuts. Penang or Phanaeng is one of the islands off the west coast of Malaysia making it farther, not closer, from Thailand. One can only speculate how this curry made it to the mainstream Thai cuisine – probably through trade with Malaysia. But made it, it did, and how. It is now one of the most popular items on the Thai menu with its exquisite blend of sweet and spicy flavors.
I learned to make this curry from the excellent cookbook by Nancie McDermott. The version I make now is derived from her recipe. This curry is a big hit in the foodydoody household for many reasons – the kids eat it without complaint, the wife likes it and like most Thai curries it can be put together in a jiffy. Here is my version of this curry. I tend to overload it with veggies – different colored peppers, zucchini, carrots etc. to make it a substantial meal. You can play around with the veggies/protein. Generally speaking, anything non-juicy should work. Thai cuisine is generally meat centric so beef, chicken etc should also work very well in this curry.
INGREDIENTS (for 6 adults)
2 cans of coconut milk
3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste (homemade is best, I will post a recipe at some point)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
Some Rooster Sauce because everything is better with it
1 cube vegetable bouillon (or about a quarter cup of veggie stock)
12 oz hard tofu cut into small cubes
1 can of baby corn, drained and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts – ground
8-10 basil leaves
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into small inch square chunks
1. Heat 1/2 a can of coconut milk till it starts giving out fragrance and is gently boiling.
2. Add the red curry paste and mash and mix well.
3. Add the remaining coconut milk, sugar, salt, soy, stock (or bouillon), Rooster sauce and bring to a boil.
4. Add the tofu and baby corn and coat well. Shred the basil leaves and toss them in.
5. Add the peanuts.
6. Let the curry simmer for a while (10-15 minutes) on medium-low heat.
7. Add the red pepper right at the end, bring to a boil and serve garnished with basil leaves. NOTE: If you like your pepper cooked, reduce to medium heat for a couple of minutes. You don’t want to overcook the pepper.
8. Eat with boiled rice.