Sometimes also spelt as Panaeng Curry this is one of my favourite dishes. Actually to my mind the correct spelling of the dish should be “Panaeng” but Google thinks otherwise! It’s sometimes stated that this dish originates from the Malaysian island of Penang. I don’t buy that at all but it’s a fight I will leave to others!
I’m cooking this with beef. I think that this is a dish that benefits from slower cooking, so although it can be cooked quickly using rump steak I prefer to use braising steak or similar. This will produce a dish where the melting texture of the slow cooked beef and the richness of the sauce is a heavenly combination! I’m garnishing it with some kaffir lime leaf and some mild red chillies. For around 500g of beef you need 1 pouch of Panang paste and 1 can of coconut milk. The pastes are complete but it is always a good idea to have a little lime juice to hand to adjust sweetness, if needed, to your personal taste at the end of cooking. You also adjust saltiness by adding a little more fish sauce or salt if required. I’m often asked about using a slow cooker for Thai curries, any recipe using coconut milk in a slow cooker has to be adapted so please read this article here first. Slow cooker curry.
Make sure you’re using the “right” type of coconut milk as it will make or break this or any other coconut based curry. Quick guide here, Coconut Milk Summary or if you would like to see the difference between different brands of coconut milk the full article is here; Cooking Thai Curry with Coconut Milk. Just use half a can to start with, if it has separated in the can to a thick part at the top of the can then use the top part. You can add the remaining coconut liquid later depending on how thick you want your curry to be. The “traditional” method of heating the milk until it separates from it’s oil and using it to cook the paste is not something I recommend as can be be hard to achieve consistent results with canned coconut milk.
Add the rest of the coconut milk ensuring the meat is just covered, add water if needed. Cover pan with a tight fitting lid. You can continue to cook this on the hob or transfer to the oven at 160C. If cooking on the hob use a low heat, checking and stirring from time to time to prevent it sticking, add water if need be. Cooking time will depend on the cut of meat, about 90 mins for braising steak. It should be tender, almost falling apart. If the coconut milk has released too much oil for your taste then just scoop some from the top.
Apart from serving it as a “normal” Thai curry in the top picture, this is a popular way of serving it in our house, usually while watching a football game or movie. Tastes great in a baguette or grilled sourdough bread! The origins of Panang curry suggest anyway that it was originally a very dry curry, most likely cooked as grilled meats over charcoal, so maybe this is not a too outrageous way to eat a Panang curry, tastes great and that, for me anyway, is reason enough:-) Enjoy!
UPDATE. Comments box added.