PANANG BEEF CURRY
Ah, the good ol’ days: when spending 30 bucks on Thai takeout was just your typical Wednesday night. Now, income-less, Thai food along with Chinese and pizza seems like quite the luxury. These days I’m making my own Thai food, and to be honest, not missing a thing. At home, I make Thai food the way I like it. Very spicy, fairly salty and just a little sweet. Such is the beauty of having curry pastes sitting in your freezer ready at your disposal. What seems like an exotic and esoteric cuisine on the surface is actually fairly simple to prepare at home.
I like to think of panang as a great beginner curry for those that are new to Thai cuisine. Reminiscent of everybody’s favorite peanut dipping sauce which accompanies the ubiquitous satay, panang is at once both bright and aromatic while at the same time, rich and comforting.
I’m lucky enough to live in San Francisco where I can find pretty much anything I need at any of the many Asian markets. However, if you love Thai food and can’t find a store that stocks such items as palm sugar, lime leaves, or good Thai coconut milk, check out www.importfood.com for everything you need (and then some).
PANANG BEEF CURRY
Once you have the hard part of making the paste out of the way, this curry comes together quite quickly. Make sure to use a good, full-fat brand of coconut milk when making this dish. The thick cream that settles at the top of each can is rich in oil and acts as the perfect stir-frying medium to bloom the curry paste’s aroma and flavors. Many panang recipes call for the addition of ground peanuts instead of peanut butter. Either makes a fine choice, but I love the velvety texture that comes from using the stuff in jars. Finally, adjust the final seasoning to your own tastes. Some people like their curry sweeter or saltier than others, so feel free to add more fish sauce or palm sugar along the way to fit your own palate.
- 1 19 fl. oz can Thai coconut milk (I use Mae Ploy brand)
- 4-5 tablespoons homemade Panang curry paste
- 1 lb. beef cross rib roast, sliced 2 x 1/4 inch thick
- 3-4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
- 1/2 cup water
- 4-6 Thai chilies, split lengthwise
- 2-3 limes leaves cut into a chiffonade for garnish
- Lime wedges for garnish
- Skim the thick cream from the top of the can of coconut milk into a large saucepan, reserving the watery milk. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir the cream vigorously until the glossy oil surfaces.
- Add the curry paste and continue to stir vigorously until fragrant and a red oil surfaces, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the sliced beef and stir to coat well with the curry mixture. Add in the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanut butter, water and chilies. Stir to dissolve the the peanut butter and palm sugar and simmer over low heat for one hour, or until the curry has reduced into a thick sauce and the beef is very tender.
- Taste the curry for for salt and sweetness. If it needs more salt, add a few more dashes of fish sauce, if it needs to be sweeter, add more palm sugar.
- Transfer the curry to a serving bowl and garnish with the lime leaf chiffonade. Serve with lime wedges.