You can now make an amazing Beef Panang Curry at home in less time it takes to make white rice. Beef Panang Curry must be rich, moderately spicy and creamy with lots of sauce, but not so much that is turns into a soup. The beef should be tender and soft. I also like some fresh vegetables with crunch in the sauce. The addition of lots of fresh Thai basil is crucial for the authentic flavor. Making Beef Panang Curry at home allows you to control the level of spiciness and sauce-to-protein ratio.
What is the difference between Red Curry and Panang Curry? Well, as it turns out, not much. Panang is a bit more mild and sweet with a peanut component; either crushed peanuts on top or ground peanuts in the sauce. This recipe uses Red Curry Paste with the addition of a tablespoon of sugar and peanut butter. As a side note - Green Curry uses green chilis and lots of fresh green herbs like kaffir leaf, basil and cilantro. Yellow Curry uses tumeric to achieve its rich golden color. See the color in this wonderful Yellow Curry with Chicken and Potatoes.
Using the right ingredients is key. America's Test Kitchen rated Aroy-D as the best tasting brand for Coconut Milk. My favorite Red Curry Paste, Maesri, comes in small 4-ounce cans. Start with 1-2 tablespoons of red curry paste and add more to get your preferred level of spiciness.
If you can find fresh Thai basil, please use it! Otherwise fresh Italian basil works too. Fresh Kaffir Lime leaves can be found in Asian markets or buy dried Kaffir Lime Leaves online at Amazon. Lemon or lime leaves would be a possible substitute.
You will need a good cast iron to sear the steak, and a non-skillet to make the creamy, spicy coconut curry sauce. Use a top sirloin, flank or even rib eye steak for the beef. Sear it in a hot cast iron pan until its rare. You can also substitute chicken breast for the beef.
One important tip is cut the rare steak very thin. It will continue cooking in the Panang Curry sauce, and you want the thin slices to stay soft, not chewy.
The Red Curry Paste is "stir fried" and then blended with the coconut milk and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Add the Thai red chilis, basil, carrots, red bell pepper, snap peas and sliced beef.
Mix to coat and gently simmer 10 minutes until you get a thick, creamy, delicious sauce.
Serve immediately with extra-long grain white rice. My favorite brand is Royal Chef's Secret Extra-Long Grain Basmati Rice. You can buy a 10-pound bag on Amazon if you can't find a smaller quantity in your local grocer. Notice the beautiful individual long grains of rice in the photo!
Easy Panang Beef Curry
- 2 pounds top sirloin or ribeye steak
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil divided (or substitute canola oil)
- 2 tablespoons 2 ounces Maesri Thai Red Curry Paste (more or less for level of desired spiciness)
- 1 14 ounce can full fat Coconut Milk Aroy-D brand preferred
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter creamy or chunky
- 2 whole Thai red chili seeded
- Small red bell pepper seeded and cut in strips
- 2 carrots peeled and cut in diagonal slices
- 1 cup snap peas trimmed (or substitute pea pods)
- 8 -10 fresh Thai basil leaves or substitute fresh Italian basil leaves
- 6 kaffir lime leaves vein removed and cut in thin strips (or substitute other citrus leaves)
- Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet on the stove top with 1 tablespoon peanut oil. When the pan is shimmering, add the steaks and cook for approximately 4- 8 minutes on each side, depending how thick the steaks are. The outside should be seared and the inside should be rare and register with a digital thermometer no more than 118 -120 degrees. (The steak will cook more when returned to the pan).
- Remove the steak from from pan and let rest for 5 - 10 minutes on a cutting board to reabsorb the juices. Slice each steak against the grain into very thin slices - about an ⅛ inch thick pieces, and set aside. If the steak slices are too thick they will be chewy in the sauce. This step can be done ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Heat remaining peanut oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of red curry paste and cook, stirring frequently with a spatula, until the paste darkens in color to brick red, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let the paste burn. Add coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir to combine all the ingredients until smooth. Taste sauce and add up to 2 tablespoons more curry paste to achieve desired spiciness. Add the carrots and chiles, and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper, basil, and sliced beef. Gently stir to evenly coat all the ingredients with sauce,.
- Continue simmering for another 10 or until the sauce has reduced and slightly thickened. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Add kaffir lime leaves and simmer another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and serve with extra long-grain white rice. It is optional to garnish the top with crushed peanuts.