Penang curry (also spelled panaeng and panang) is a delicious Thai curry that is named after a state in northern Malaysia. It is also commonly served in Australia (my co-chef Andrew’s homeland). Andrew lives at the intersection of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, so we recently made a curry containing ingredients from the little groceries that line Grand Street.
It’s all about the curry paste. And unless you have a few thousand dollars to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai, head to Bangkok Center Grocery in Chinatown and grab the Nittaya curry paste (we do have shares in both of these companies and they have survived the financial crisis nicely). Most Thai restaurants in NYC source their curries from this store, so you aren’t cheating. You might want to call ahead to make sure they have their curry paste in stock as it ships direct from Thailand and recent civil unrest has disrupted supply! You’ll need to pick up the Kaffir lime leaves (grown in back of the store) and the Thai basil here. You can procure everything else locally.
This Penang curry was easy to cook, easy on the wallet, and downright delicious.
Note: For a great glossary explaining some of the Thai ingredients you might not be familiar with, check out this post by another of our guest contributors, Brian.
– One large chicken breast, thinly sliced
– 1 can coconut milk
– 4 tablespoons panang curry paste
– 2 tablespoons palm sugar
– 3 tablespoons fish sauce
– 7 Kaffir lime leaves – 4 in pieces, removed from stems; 3 shredded for garnish
– ½ cup sweet (Thai) basil leaves (Note: very hard to keep – the leaves quickly wilt – you cannot refrigerate them or freeze them. I have had some luck with putting them in a vase like flowers!)
– A few bamboo shoots (from can)
– Vegetables to taste: red/green pepper, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms
1. Cook the rice first! It always takes longer. Do yourself a favor (the NYT agrees) and buy a rice cooker in Chinatown for $20. 1.5 cups of rice is sufficient for this dish
2. Fry half of the coconut milk in a wok for a few minutes; stir continuously until coconut oil begins to separate. Add curry paste and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add meat and cook until outside is cooked. Add the rest of the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add vegetables in order of length of time required to cook ie carrots, broccoli, pepper, mushrooms, and finally snow peas. Simmer and add the palm sugar along the side of the wok until it melts, then add fish sauce and Kaffir lime leaf pieces. Stir – let curry reduce until desired thickness/consistency is achieved. Add half of the basil leaves. Garnish with the shredded Kaffir lime leaves and remaining basil. You might want to take out the large lime leaves before eating – they are for imparting flavor, not eating.
3. Serve over the white rice you made. You can substitute red curry for panang curry in this recipe.