Thai Chicken Panang Curry – Paste Recipe Included!
This Thai chicken Panang curry recipe will show you how to cook a spicy, nutty, delicious Thai chicken Panang curry and provide an easy paste recipe so you only have to buy paste if you want to! For those who do, you’ll find a fantastic Panang curry paste right here. (The previous was an affiliate link for which I earn a commission per purchase!)
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Introduction – Thai Cuisine
My first experience of Thai food was a green curry, cooked for me by a friend many years ago. I had of course heard bits and pieces about Thai food here and there. But for the most part, it was unfamiliar to me.
Somehow, the notion of a Thai green curry sounded silly to me. It was a far cry from the Indian curries I was accustomed to. The curries whose names were authentic Indian words I could not hope to understand.
Thai green curry, on the other hand, sounded perhaps a little … amateurish?
Nevertheless, several years later I had a chance to try again. Older and wiser, I was now far more curious about foreign cuisine. And the dishes of a country like Thailand, whose flavours and ingredients were both intriguingly exotic and familiarly spiced and complex, suddenly held a newfound appeal.
Soon after, I started experimenting with Thai food. My friend’s Thai green curry had been a perfectly good offering. But I would do one better.
It was then that I first tried out the Massaman curry. The dish that would come to form the basis of the Chicken Massaman recipe I posted here on the website.
And how wonderfully it turned out. At least for an amateur.
From then on, Thai food became a regular part of my cooking schedule. And one of the things I look out for most when I visit a new city or country. Even outside Thailand!
Introduction – Thai Chicken Panang Curry
Many years later, with a better understanding of Thai food, I looked over the menu at a Thai restaurant nearby. The meal that stood out most was the Thai Panang, a nutty chicken curry I had somehow never had before.
I had of course heard of Thai Panang curries. But had somehow never tried them. Despite their popularity. And I was very much in for a treat!
What came out was sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, all in perfect harmony. It helped that the restaurant itself was understated as any I had visited. But the food, served in simple tableware with humble cutlery, was perfect.
Not that you would have guessed to look at it. There was certainly nothing wrong with the presentation. But it was, once again, so very humble that I thought nothing of it. And how wonderfully that disarmed me. Serving to assist in the utter blowing of my mind when I took my first bite!
I will confess to never having yet made it to Thailand. Though I will, as soon as things get back to normal. (2020!) But I can only assume the Thai chicken Panang curry I had that day was as faithful an adaptation as I could ever hope for. At least without boarding an aeroplane.
About the dish
The dish itself is known for being a little more accessible than some of the other Thai dishes.
It may not be as famous as the coloured curries. Nor as easy to dive into as the Massaman curry. But it does, however, balance those sour, spicy Thai flavours with the creaminess of ground peanuts.
This highlights its sweetness, making it an easy entry point for Thai food. Yet also a perfectly valid option for even the more tested connoisseurs of exotic cuisine.
As well, a Thai Panang tends to be built from a base not unlike a red curry paste. And the red curry, at least in my experience, is a little easier going than a green or yellow.
Not as powerfully spiced as the green or as complex as the yellow, the red is perhaps the most neutral of the three. And that’s what makes it such a wonderful jumping off point for flavours like these!
About this Thai Chicken Panang Curry Recipe
My version of the Thai Panang curry is a very straightforward one. I am trying to build a very traditional version of the dish and to use fresh, authentic ingredients.
A Panang curry could contain pretty much any protein you like. So if you wanted to use beef or pork instead of chicken, or even lamb, you could absolutely go ahead. Just make sure you use an appropriately fast cooking protein. While I’m sure there are plenty of braised dishes in Thai cuisine, this one isn’t one of them!
If you do choose to change the dish in such a way, don’t forget to make the appropriate adjustments to the cooking times, or even prepare the meat separately.
Finally, I have included a paste recipe as part of the instructions for the dish. But for those who might want to skip that step, you can get a great Panang curry paste right here! This is an affiliate marketing link, which means I earn commission on any items sold.
Things to remember!
- We’re going to cook the paste and the meat in the oils created by reducing the coconut milk. As such, you want to use a full fat coconut milk when you cook.
- If you’re using low-fat coconut milk, skip the reduction, cook everything in oil and forgo adding stock. Instead, just add the coconut milk at that stage.
- Ideally, you want to use a high quality chicken stock. But if you don’t have time or access, store bought stock won’t do you any harm!
- The flavours are yours to tweak as you please. I love sour flavours and I love a bit of sweetness to balance them. If you don’t, adjust as you see fit.
- And by all means, add as many chillies as you want. Go crazy if it suits you!
- Finally, things cook quickly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You really want to have everything ready nice and early so that all you have to do is throw things into the pan at the right time.
A few final tips – Panang Curry Paste Recipe Overview
This is what I mean when I talk about a coconut milk reduction. If possible you actually want to go a little further than this. Because you really want that oil to fry and cook your paste.
Toasting your dry spices first makes them easier to grind and helps to bring out the natural flavours and oils within. This makes them blend better with the other ingredients in the paste and it gives them a stronger, better developed flavour. Win win!
Above is a picture of my paste. I tend to blend all of the paste ingredients together to begin with and then add them to a pestle and mortar, as above. Keep on going at that stage and really mash those ingredients together. You see those whole pieces of chilli? You don’t want them!
Similar Recipes & Useful Sides
Delicious Thai Yellow Curry – A fantastic curry that takes the fresh, vibrant flavours of Thailand and adds to them the complex flavours of dry spices and earthy turmeric.
Perfect Prawn Pad Thai – The national dish of Thailand. Quite possibly the perfect stir fry! With fresh seafood, paper thin rice noodles, crunchy peanuts, zingy tamarind and fiery chilli.
Authentic Thai Green Curry – Need I say more? The classic Thai dish that we all know and love. A perfect, vibrant curry with beautiful green chillies and fresh herbs.
Thai Chicken Massaman Curry – An amazing Mughal dish that perfectly merges Thailand’s incredible, fresh, beautiful flavours with the most decadent richness and spiciness of India at its most indulgent.
Thai Chicken Panang Curry – Paste Recipe Included!
- 2 Chicken Legs & Thighs
- 1 Bell Pepper
- 400 ml Chicken Stock
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 tsp Shrimp Paste
- Fish Sauce
- 1/2 cup Peanuts
- 2 inches Galangal
- 5 Kaffir Lime Leaves
- 2 – 6 Chillies red preferably – I used a mix
- 1 tsp Lemongrass Paste
- 1 tsp Chilli Flakes
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- Coriander Stalks
- 1 Shallot
- 3 cloves Garlic
Season & Garnish
- Fish Sauce
- 2 tsp Palm Sugar
- Lime Juice
- Fresh Coriander
- Pour your coconut milk into a saucepan on medium heat and reduce all the way down until the oil begins to separate. You'll see what that looks like in one of the pictures above. When you can really see the oil separating from the milk, you can take it off the heat or begin to cook.
- Bone the chicken legs and remove any sinew, then cut into suitably sized pieces. Set aside.
- Core and slice the bell pepper into small slices, then set aside.
- Peel and halve the shallot and finely slice one half, then set aside.
Make the Paste
- Toast 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp coriander seeds in a hot, dry pan for 1 – 2 minutes, until brittle, then transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind into a fine powder.
- In a blender, add 1/2 cup peanuts, 2 inches galangal, 3 cloves garlic, the remaining half a shallot, 5 kaffir lime leaves, 1 tsp lemongrass paste, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp black papper, a small handful of coriander stalks, 1 tsp shrimp paste and a good splash of fish sauce.
- Blend them all together as finely as possible, then transfer to the pestle and mortar and finish grinding everything down, combining it with the powdered spices.
- Bring your coconut milk back to a medium-high heat and add your paste.
- Cook the paste through for a couple of minutes, stirring as you go, and then add the chicken, stirring until lightly coloured all over. Don't go too far, you still have other ingredients to add and don't want to overcook the chicken.
- Add the bell pepper and the sliced shallot, then stir everything together and cook through for a minute or so.
- Add some stock, but only as much as you need to submerge everything and to create a medium thick sauce. Allow everything to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
Season & Garnish
- Stir in some palm sugar, if desired, to accentuate the flavour of the peanuts.
- At the very end, add some lime juice and stir in.
- Finally, add some additional fish sauce if desired and garnish with fresh basil or coriander, a wedge of lime, some peanuts and optionally fresh chilli.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe or have any comments or queries, please do let us know in the comments section below! And don’t forget to like and share!