Of all the various Thai curries, panang curry (also spelt as ‘panaeng’ or ‘phanaeng’) is probably the richest and creamiest. Like many Thai dishes it can carry a kick and there is plenty going on to tantalise the taste buds.
Panang curry is a versatile dish that is available in a number of variations. When you travel in Thailand you may see it on menus with chicken, pork or beef. In coastal locations, fish, shrimps or crab may be used. Vegetarian versions are another tasty alternative. Despite its rich flavour, panang curry is relatively easy to make at home. We show you three ways to make this dish; a vegetarian option from Rosa’s Thai and a classic beef or pork option from Hot Thai Kitchen.
There is some dispute about how the name for this curry originated. Panang curry appears to have first been made in Thailand (the central, northern and southern region all lay claim to this dish). Although some online resources suggest there is a connection with Penang in Malaysia, this is unlikely. The more plausible explanation is that the word ‘panang’ (พะแนง) is an old word used in ancient Siam that means ‘cross’. The dish is believed to have originated from the way the dish was originally cooked using chicken with the chicken legs crossed.
Vegetarian panang curry
In this alternative to a meat-based curry, Rosa’s Thai uses tofu. It still packs punch and makes for a satisfying, easy to make meal.
Preparation time: 35 minutes
- 200g firm tofu cut into 1 inch cube pieces
- 400ml coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (can use Thai fish sauce for a non-vegetarian version)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- 5 lime leaves, finely sliced
- 2 red spur chillies, finely sliced
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over a high heat
- Add the curry paste and stir-fry for a few seconds until fragrant (be careful of the paste spitting)
- Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the red oil rises to the surface (around 4-5 minutes)
- Add the tofu, soy sauce and palm sugar
- Stir until palm sugar is completely dissolved
- Continue to cook on medium heat until tofu is cooked through (around 3-4 minutes)
- Turn off the heat and add the lime leaves and chillies
- Serve hot with steamed rice
Rosa’s vegetarian panang curry (written recipe)
Panang curry with pork
Pailin from Hot Thai Kitchen shows two alternative ways to make a delicious panang curry using either pork or beef. Check out the videos and written instructions below for more details.
Panang curry with pork (written recipe)
Panang curry with beef
Panang curry with beef recipe (written instructions)
Home made curry paste
Using ready-made curry pastes certainly makes things easier. But if you’d like to go a step further and make your own curry paste, there are a couple of recipes here from Pailin at Hot Thai Kitchen and Rosa’s:
Panang curry paste (written instructions)
Rosa’s vegetarian red curry paste (written instructions)
You may also enjoy
Fan Club Thailand
Tourism Thailand (UK & Ireland)
We are here to help you experience the best of amazing Thailand. Bookmark our online magazine for ideas and tips for what to see and do in Thailand, and follow us on social media for even more travel inspiration.