One of the best things about Thai food (in my opinion) is the connection you get with your food. I think it’s like that with most cuisine. When you take the time to prep the ingredients, put them all together, and come out with a fantastic final product, you get this awesome feeling of accomplishment and the food just seems to taste better.
So, when making any Thai curry, you have to ask yourself a question. Should I make the paste by hand, use a mini-processor, or should I buy one that’s already pre-made? The answer to that is completely up to you. I think it’s fun to make the paste on your own! It takes time, but you can tweak it so the final flavor is exactly what you want it to be.
However, it does take a bit of time, and the pastes you can buy at the Asian market are going to be just as good … you just aren’t cooking completely from scratch, and if that’s okay with you, then go for it! But, for those of you who want to try your hand at making curry from start to finish completely on your own, here is the recipe for Panang Curry Paste. Also check out the recipes for Red Curry Paste and Green Curry Paste … also delish!
Nam Prik Gaeng Panang - Panang Curry Paste
- 3 dried guajillo chilies, stemmed
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, bottom 4″ only, thinly sliced
- 3 TBSP roasted peanuts
- 2 TBSP galangal, peeled and chopped
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4-6 dried or fresh Thai chilies (for heat)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander (if using seeds, pound into powder prior to putting in processor)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin (if using seeds, pound into powder prior to putting in processor)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (if using peppercorns, pound into powder prior to putting in processor)
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
Notes: Here are some notes on the above ingredients.
- Lemongrass: For this recipe you can use either fresh lemongrass or powdered lemongrass. Powdered is easier to find and works well in pastes.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves: Very few Asian markets that I have found in the area actually these leaves. I purchase mine from Uwajimaya in Bellevue or Seattle. I haven’t had much luck in other places. You can also find powdered kaffir leaves in some places as well.
Method for Mini-Processor
- Place dried chilies in a medium bowl; cover with hot water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain; place chilies and all remaining ingredients in a mini-processor. Process until paste forms.
Method for Mortar and Pestle
- Place dried chilies in a medium bowl; cover with hot water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Put coriander, cumin, salt and pepper into mortar and pound well.
- Add lemongrass and kaffir leaves and pound well.
- Add the remaining ingredients except shrimp paste. Pound until mixed well.
- Add shrimp paste. Pound until fine and smooth.
Take your time! This is not going to be done in five minutes. It’ll probably take more like 15-20 minutes and maybe even longer.
- Curry pastes can last up to a few months if kept in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator.