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Thai panang curry paste recipe from scratch. Use a traditional mortar and pestle or food processor to blend together herbs and spices including peanuts, dried chilies, and galangal. This recipe comes together quickly, delivering a paste that rivals any Thai restaurant’s version!
What is panang curry paste
Panang curry paste is a key ingredient for panang curry, crafted from a blend of fragrant herbs and spices including shrimp paste, lemongrass, and peanuts. The paste is distinct from other Thai curry pastes due to its unique combination of nuttiness and mild sweetness.
Why make it yourself
- Homemade panang curry paste means zero preservatives and additives. We will use fresh and healthy ingredients only.
- Thai food tastes best when made from scratch. Thai cuisine uses fresh ingredients, and fresh spices and flavors.
- Include peanuts for authentic flavor. Some bought panang curry pastes omit peanuts due to allergies, but they’re essential for that authentic, nutty curry taste.
- Use a traditional mortar and pestle. Grinding spices with a mortar and pestle is an authentic Thai experience. It’s a staple in every Thai household and a must if you love Southeast Asian food.
- Customize to your taste. You’re in control, and you get to customize the flavors how you like them best. Not a fan of a certain spice? Simply leave it out.
- Freeze for later use. Make a large batch and stock up for later. Gift your friends and family with a jar of the best panang curry paste EVER!
Guide to store-bought panang curry paste
Panang curry paste can be bought at most Asian markets, Asian supermarkets, or Thai specialty stores. Some major supermarkets might have curry paste in stock near other Asian ingredients. Additionally, online retailers like Amazon offer a range of brands.
- Mae Ploy panang curry paste: A great balance of flavors, most Thai restaurants I’ve worked in used Mae Ploy.
- Maesri panang curry paste: This is the closest thing to authentic flavor you can find. Perfect for when you don’t have time to make it yourself.
- Aroy-D panang curry paste: Has somewhat of a milder taste, but still a great choice for those who want a taste of Thai food.
- Dry red spur chilies – Red spur chilies are a common type of large red chili pepper used in Thai cuisine. They’re not too spicy and have a slightly sweet taste.
- Dried chilies – Dried chilies are fresh chilies that have been left to dry in the sun, intensifying the flavor and heat level. You can get them at Asian grocery stores or at Amazon.
- Kaffir lime zest – The skin of the kaffir lime fruit is very fragrant and citrusy. When you peel it, the refreshing scent immediately fills the air.
- Lemongrass – The stalk of lemongrass is used in the paste to brighten it up with a lemon-like aroma and citrus tang. It’s a staple in many Thai soups and curry pastes.
- Galangal – Galangal is a member of the ginger family, bringing a spicy-sweet zing. It’s another staple in Thai food, adding depth to curries and soups.
- Shrimp paste – Shrimp paste brings a salty, umami depth that rounds out all the flavors. This condiment is made from fermented ground shrimp, and may be a bit pungent if you’re not used to it. You can easily make a vegan panang curry paste by substituting shrimp paste with 1 teaspoon salt.
- Coriander seeds – Coriander seeds add a sweet, citrus touch to many Southeast Asian spice blends.
- Cumin – Cumin is a spice with a warm, earthy, spicy essence and a distinctive aroma.
- Garlic, salt, shallots
- Dry roasted peanuts – You can get unsalted peanuts at a local grocery store. Toast them before using them in this Thai panang curry paste recipe.
How to make it
Using a food processor? Simply throw in all the ingredients and blend until they form a smooth paste. The mortar and pestle method is your go-to for an authentic touch. Just follow the easy instructions below.
1. First, slice and soak the dry red spur chilies in water for about 10 minutes. This softens them for easier pounding, but note that it may reduce the paste’s shelf life.
2. Slice the galangal, lemongrass, dried chilies, shallots, and garlic into thin slices.
3. Lightly toast the coriander seeds and cumin in a skillet over medium heat for approx 30 seconds.
4. Pound the dry ingredients first: the galangal, salt, toasted coriander seeds, cumin, and lemongrass until they form a coarse mixture.
5. Add in the remaining ingredients and continue to pound until you get a smooth paste.
Panang paste recipe tips and tricks
- Use a combination of up-and-down pounding and circular grinding motions. Use a wooden spoon to spoon the ingredients back to the center of the mortar.
- Prep your herbs and spices. Before pounding, slice all your ingredients into smaller pieces. This prep makes the pounding process quicker and easier.
- Use fresh ingredients. Head to an Asian grocery store to pick up the freshest herbs and spices for the most flavorful curry paste.
- Opt for a mortar and pestle. A food processor is quick and easy, but a mortar and pestle will give you that authentic flavor. Crushing the ingredients by hand helps release their natural oils and aromas. But no worries, using a food processor is perfectly fine too.
- Granite mortar and pestle or food processor
- Cutting board and chef’s knife
- Measuring spoons and cups
How to serve
This recipe for panang curry paste yields 8.5 oz of paste. You can use it to make homemade panang curry, use it as flavoring in a noodle dish, or make a panang stir-fry.
How to store
Keep your leftover paste in a plastic bag or an airtight container and store it in your refrigerator for up to 1 month. You can also freeze it for 6 months to use it later.
Did you know?
The Thai name for panang curry paste is prik gaeng panang, gaeng panaeng, or kaeng panang.
Frequently asked questions
What can I use instead of panang curry paste?
You can transform red curry paste into a panang curry paste substitute by blending it with dry toasted peanuts and adding toasted cumin plus coriander seeds. Additionally, you can explore yellow curry paste, green curry paste, or massaman curry paste to try other Thai curries.
Is panang curry paste the same as red curry paste?
No, although they share the same base ingredients like chilies, garlic, and lemongrass. What sets panang curry paste apart are the dry-toasted peanuts, coriander seeds, and toasted cumin. It has a typical nutty flavor, while red curry paste is spicy.
How spicy is panang curry paste?
Panang curry paste is on the medium heat scale, it definitely shouldn’t be overwhelmingly spicy. Spicy but balanced. Try making it yourself to control the heat.
Is panang curry paste gluten-free?
Yes, most authentic panang curry paste recipes are gluten-free. Do double-check the labels of the shrimp paste to ensure they’re gluten-free. If you’re using store-bought, also check the labeling.
More Thai curry recipes you’ll love
- Authentic Thai red curry recipe
- Thai massaman chicken curry
- Thai roasted duck curry
- Thai green curry pork
- Gaeng daeng recipe
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Thai Panang Curry Paste recipe
Learn how to make panang curry paste, a blend of herbs and spices that sets the base for an authentic Thai panang curry.
First, slice and soak the dry red spur chilies in water for about 10 minutes. This softens them for easier pounding, but note that it may reduce the paste's shelf life. Remember to store the finished paste in the fridge or freezer.
Slice the galangal, lemongrass, dried chilies, shallots, and garlic into thin slices.
Lightly toast the coriander seeds and cumin in a skillet over medium heat for approx 30 seconds.
Pound the dry ingredients first: the galangal, salt, toasted coriander seeds, cumin, and lemongrass until they form a coarse mixture.
Add in the remaining ingredients and continue to pound until you get a smooth paste.
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 27kcal
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 0.3g1%
- Total Carbohydrate 5.5g2%
- Dietary Fiber 0.3g2%
- Sugars 0.3g
- Protein 1.2g3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
- This recipe yields 8.50 oz of panang curry paste.
- You can store the leftovers in your fridge or freezer for later use.