I fell in love with this traditional Southern Thai curry at “Night + Market Sahm” in Venice, California where they serve the thick, gravy-like curry panang with flakey, crispy fresh roti and sticky rice.
Pandang curry is characterized by balanced sweet and savory flavors with nutty undertones and a bright citrusy finish. In traditional versions of panang curry, the beef is cooked separately as to not sully the flavors of the spice paste, but I like the slight beef flavor, not to mention the ease of cooking the beef in the sauce.
Many also use a thin cut of beef, but I prefer to use cubes of beef that slowly break down and become fork-tender in the curry. My goal is to create an easy, one-pot curry with a deep flavor profile that can be easily made for a weeknight dinner and enjoyed after a little over an hour of hands-off cooking.
I tried two separate versions with both homemade curry and store-bought and in this recipe the winner was the store-bought – it was a bit spicier and felt like the flavors were more cohesive.
Traditional panang curry paste isn’t tough to make, however it can be tricky to track down the typical ingredients – a combination of red pepper, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, galangal, lime leaves and shrimp paste. Look for a store-bought Thai red curry paste with these ingredients on the container for the best flavor profile. I like using Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste which can be found at Target or here.
Makrut lime leaves are frequently used in Southeast Asian cooking to add bright, citrus flavor and can be found at most Asian markets. They freeze well so I like to buy a few packages and keep them around to use as needed. If you cannot locate makrut lime leaves then a combination of half lime zest and half lemon zest works as a substitute.
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