Got 20 minutes to spare and you want to cook up a creamy, smooth, tangy yet sweet curry loaded with tender chicken, peppers, lime leaf and Thai basil ? Well, this Panang chicken curry fits the bill. Keeping it simple, serve it over a bowl of steaming rice and just add it to your weekly menu because the crowds gonna love it.
On my travels far and wide, Thai food is some of my favourite things to eat because, Thai flavors are a party in my mouth, involves coconut milk, one of my favourtie ingredients and it’s healthy comfort food.
This curry ispretty straightforward (just meat and curry) but I like to add red bell pepper and a sliced shallot into the mix because the flavours work so well with the sweet and spicy, peanut flavoured curry.
I’ve been making Panang curry for many years but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how they got it to have this deep, rich and tangy flavor. I tried everything! Lemon juice, lime juice, lemongrass but time after time, I couldn’t make it like theirs. Until now. The number one ingredient that gives Panang curry it’s classic tang? Tamarind paste. It’s the stuff we use when we’re making pad Thai, so I thought, huh, why not add a dollop to our Panang curry as well? And it did the trick
It gives the curry a nice and dark, slow-simmered, tangy flavor one that lime juice wasn’t providing.
A Note on Curry Pastes:
There are a variety of Panang curry pastes available on the market, the one I use it called Mae Ploy. Keep in mind that traditional Thai brands of curry paste will always stretch further than brands like Thai Kitchen which are readily available in mainstream shops.
If you use a curry paste from an Asian supermarket, I suggest starting with 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste (2 if you can really handle spicy food.) Brands that are more readily available in most grocery stores seem to be less potent, so you’ll want to use 2-4 tablespoons of curry paste depending on your spice preference.
Now back to the curry. You’ll notice we’re not using any oil in today’s Panang curry recipe. Grab your coconut milk, without shaking the can, skim a couple of tablespoons off the top and add that to your hot wok or saute pan. This is the coconut cream; it’s loaded with oil so we’ll use it to cook our curry paste. Then add the curry paste and peanut butter and allow the flavors to wake up. Make sure it doesn’t burn though! Then we’ll add the chicken and mix it so that everything is coated well. Add the rest of the coconut milk along with the fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, veggies, and let it all just simmer until the chicken cooks through and the curry thickens, that’s it!
When done, ladle the curry over a bowl of hot steamed white or brown rice.
Hope you enjoy this quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe!
What You Need:
1 ½ -2 cans coconut milk
2-4 tablespoons Panang curry paste
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 ¼ pound boneless skinless chicken, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate (or more for more tang)
1 shallot, thinly sliced (or ½ red onion)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 kefir lime leaves, optional
¼ cup basil leaves
Lets Get Cooking:
PASTE: Without shaking the can, skim off two tablespoons of the coconut cream and add it to a sauté pan set over medium-high heat.
Add the Panang curry paste along with the peanut butter and cook for 1 minute.
Add the chicken and stir to coat, cook for 1-2 minutes.
If at any point the sauce begins to stick to the pan, add a couple tablespoons of water to deglaze.
Stir in the remaining coconut milk, starting with 1 1/2 cans (adjust with more later if desired.)
Add the kefir lime leaves, fish sauce, brown sugar, sliced onion, and red bell pepper.
SIMMER: Allow the curry to come to a simmer, lower the heat and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken cooks through.
Taste and adjust with additional coconut milk, sugar, tamarind, or fish sauce as desired.
Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm with rice or cooked rice noodles.
NOTES: leftover coconut milk can be poured into an airtight container and frozen for up to 6 months.