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Thai Panang Curry Paste recipe

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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!

Thai panang curry paste in a clay cup with sliced lemongrass, galangal, and shallots scattered around.

Use this recipe in combination with my authentic panang curry recipe or my Thai beef panang curry recipe for an easy and delicious dinner any day of the week.

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.


Authentic panang curry paste in a wooden spoon over a granite mortar.

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!
Top-down view of granite mortar and pestle with herbs and spices on a bamboo serving tray.

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.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Bird's eye view of Thai panang curry paste ingredients; salt, dried spur chilies, coriander seeds, cumin, shrimp paste, shallots, dried chilies, lemongrass, galangal,  garlic, and kaffir lime zest.
  • 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 Thai curries.
  • 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.

Looking for more authentic homemade Thai curry pastes? Check out my other recipes: massaman curry paste, green curry paste, or Thai red curry paste.

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. Overhead view of a small bowl containing dry red spur chilies soaking in water.

    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. Sliced herbs on a banana leaf with toasted cumin and coriander seeds in a pan.

    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.

  3. Close-up of homemade panang curry paste in a mortar.

    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.

Kitchen tools

  • 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

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Thai Panang Curry Paste recipe

Thai panang curry paste in a clay cup with sliced lemongrass, galangal, and shallots scattered around.
Learn how to make panang curry paste, a blend of herbs and spices that sets the base for an authentic Thai panang curry.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Ingredients
Serving Size 8

Ingredients

  • 1.05 ounce galangal
  • 0.18 ounces salt
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1.75 ounce lemongrass
  • 0.7 ounces dry red spur chilies
  • 5 dried chilies
  • 1.75 ounce shallots
  • 1.75 ounce garlic
  • 0.18 ounces kaffir lime zest
  • 0.7 ounces shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • This recipe yields 8.50 oz of panang curry paste.
  • You can store the leftovers in your fridge or freezer for later use.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was so delicious and fun to make! I couldn’t find kaffir limes or galangal at my local Asian markets, so I subbed fresh ginger and regular limes, but will definitely keep hunting for them in the future. I plan to buy a larger mortar and pestle just so I can make this more often 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for trying the recipe! I’m glad you liked it! You can always use a food processor if you don’t have a large mortar and pestle to make an easy batch and freeze for later.

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