Panang Curry with Pork

Panang Curry With Pork


This seemingly difficult recipe is actually very easy. Once you have all of your ingredients prepared, this beautiful Panang curry comes together in a snap.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Views: 39,375
  • Success: 99%


Step 1: Preparing Ingredients for Panang Paste

• 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 10 dried, long, red chilies
• 4 tbsp unsalted, raw peanuts (optional)
• 1 1/2 tbsp galangal
• 2 tbsp lemongrass
• 2 tbsp garlic
• 1/4 tsp mace (or 1/4 piece of nutmeg, coarsely pounded)
• 1 tbsp coriander root
• 3 tbsp shallots
• 1 tsp kaffir lime zest
• 1/4 tsp shrimp paste (or to taste, optional)


To start the paste, boil the peanuts until very soft. This should take about 45 minutes at a gentle boil.

Remove the seeds from the chilies, leaving a few seeds in if you like more heat. Soak the chilies in a pot of hot water for about 15 minutes.

Add a bit of water to the peanuts, if needed, as the water will boil down quite a bit. In the meantime, toast the cumin, coriander and mace/nutmeg, and set aside to cool.

When the chilies are soft, drain and squeeze out the excess water. Finely chop and set aside. Once the peanuts are soft, drain and set aside to cool completely.

Remove the outer skin and finely chop the galangal. Mince the bottom, white part of the lemongrass. Next, finely chop the garlic, shallot and the root of the coriander. Lastly, zest the kaffir lime, and measure the shrimp paste.

Step 2: Making the Panang Paste

• 1 large pinch sea salt


To make the paste, in a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin, coriander and mace/nutmeg until you have a fine powder. Next, grind the chilies along with a good pinch of salt. Scrape down the sides of the pestle from time to time, and pound the chilies until very fine. Add the galangal. Pound each ingredient in fully, before adding the next, adding the lemongrass, garlic, coriander root, shallots, lime zest and shrimp paste. Finally, grind in the peanuts.

Step 3: Preparing the Pork

• 1 whole pork tenderloin (approx. 1 lb or 2 cups once sliced)


Trim and cut the pork tenderloin lengthwise into 4 equal strips. Cut on an angle into thin slices.

Step 4: Making the Panang Curry

• 1 cup thick coconut cream (to cook the paste)
• 2 tbsp palm sugar
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• 6 to 8 kaffir lime leaves
• 1 long, red, chili (for garnish)
• 1/2 cup Thai basil
• 1 cup thick coconut cream (for the sauce)
• 2 tbsp coconut milk (optional, to garnish)
• 5 to 6 tbsp Panaeng paste


Tear half of the kaffir lime leaves into small pieces, removing the tough stem in the middle; chiffonade the other half. Slice the chili on a slight angle. Set all of this aside, reserving a bit of the basil for garnish.

Remove the basil leaves from the rest of the stems and set aside. Measure the palm sugar and fish sauce. Finally, measure out the coconut cream into 1 cup portions.

Heat your wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the first cup of coconut cream and let cook until the coconut oil begins to separate, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add about 5 to 6 tablespoons of the Panaeng paste. Fry this for a minute or two until very fragrant, before adding the pork. Cook the pork until the outside is cooked.

Add the remaining cup of coconut cream and bring to a gentle boil. Then turn the heat down to medium, add the palm sugar, fish sauce and the torn pieces of lime leaves. Stir and let cook for a few minutes.

Test one of the larger pieces of pork for doneness. Once done, add the basil leaves. Scoop into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk, the chiffonade of lime leaves, red chilies, and remaining basil. Serve.

Chef's Notes

Mace is the thin, red lace-like cover on the outside of the nutmeg. It has a very similar flavor to nutmeg; it’s just a bit more delicate. If you can’t find mace, you could substitute with a bit of nutmeg.

Sweet Thai basil is not the same as regular basil. Thai basil has a beautiful aroma and flavor, which really adds to this dish.

Take care when handling chilies, as you can burn your skin from the seeds and ribs of the chilies. Wear gloves or thoroughly wash your hands with hot soapy water after chopping.

Panang curry is excellent with chicken, beef or tofu. The paste will keep for quite a few days in the refrigerator or for several months in the freezer.

Cooking the Dish:

Kaffir lime leaves are very strong. You can halve the amount if you like. You may also find the torn pieces of kaffir lime to be too tough. However, it is very common in Thai cooking to add larger pieces of the more aromatic ingredients. I have tried to chop the leaves smaller and then add them, but the flavor is much stronger and just not the same. Rather than bits of kaffir here and there, it sort of permeates the whole dish.

When cooking pork, it is okay for it to be a bit pink in the middle. In fact, if it is, it will be more tender.


Depending on the type of wok you use, you will likely have to play around with the heat. The one used here is a heavy “Western Style” cast iron wok, which retains heat very well.


  • Royal K
    Royal K
    It would be very helpful if there was more of an explanation of what to do with it after it is made -- Side condiment? Mix into soup? Stir fry with it? "Jerk" sauce?
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    If you keep watching the video through to the end or click on the steps to the left of the video, you'll see. Traditionally beef is more popular with this dish but you can use chicken, pork, prawns, etc. We also use this paste in a soup which will be out shortly.
  • Mary-anne D
    Mary-anne D
    Panang has a nice mellow flavour with potatoes, carrots and or kabocha squash (also known as Japanese squash in SE Asia and Oz) for veggie meals.
  • Dee F
    Dee F
    Made this last night for a dinner party and I was so proud. It was a bit of work to make the paste but in the end it was the best. I will totally make this again.
  • Angie S
    Angie S
    Making your own paste made all the difference. A beautiful, mellow, but flavourful curry. My pork wasn't the most tender ever, but still tasted great - I'll need to make sure I don't overcook it.
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Two things to keep in mind. The first one you noted - just cook until the pork is done then remove from heat. Second, give it at least five minutes to rest before serving (off the heat). This will relax the muscle fibers and make it more tender. Glad you liked. Sometimes spending the extra time really pays off.
  • J robert B
    J robert B
    I want to make this recipe but have been unable to find a source for coriander root locally or online. Do you know of a source? What can I substitute?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The stem of cilantro (coriander) is a good substitute. I also have trouble finding the actual root of coriander...but I have good results using the stem of cilantro in place of. Are you able to find the other ingredients....where are you located? Here in Vancouver I know of a few places to find the other ingredients.
  • J robert B
    J robert B
    Dawn T Thanks for the reply. I am located in Jacksonville, FL. I have ordered kaffir lime leaves from I can buy fresh Thai basil and lemongrass locally as well as dried galangal. I cannot find kaffir limes. Do I assume correctly that I can substitute a regular lime?
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Yes.... regular lime would be a good substitute. Kaffir limes do have a very unique flavor though but you will still end up with a great panaeng paste.
  • Yoanna B
    Yoanna B
    J_Robert, hi! I'm from Jax too. Could you tell me, please, where you buy thai basil? The oriental stores(Mandarin area) I shop at don't have it.
  • Jeff M
    Jeff M
    Hi, I am in Ormond Beach FL and believe it or not, sometimes Lowes carries the Thai Basil in their garden herb section. They usually just have the Genovese italian basil but worth a shot. I used to have trouble finding most of these ingredients so I ended up buying a Kaffir tree and the lemongrass which grows fast here in zone 9. If you can find the thai basil it is worth it as it has a more anise flavor to it. Good luck.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Try calling your local Thai restaurants. They get the ingredients from somewhere, so just ask and maybe they can tell you where you can buy them in your area. If not maybe they can sell you some. Good Luck!
  • Umaporn S
    Umaporn S
    I am Thai and love to cook. I believed that Panang only need very thin slice of kiffir lime leaves instead of basil! So, No basil needed for authentic Panang curry. :-)
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Hi Umaporn. Thai basil is certainly optional for the dish; however, it is generally not added to the paste itself. When we went to cooking school in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this is how the local chefs made this dish and how they taught us. However, when we went to other cooking programs in southern Thailand, they omitted it. So I guess my point is that there are many interpretations of "authentic" recipes. Depends really on where you come from and what you like I guess. For example, we were researching Paella the other day and found 100's of authentic recipes for this fantastic dish. So try it both ways. And if you like Thai basil, use it. If you don't, the omit it. Thanks again. Joe
  • Umaporn S
    Umaporn S
    Hey Joe, I made a comment as it didn't say that basil leaves is only optional in the video and i think people should know that. So, if they go to Thailand and order Panang curry, they won't be surprise that only few restaurant serve Panang curry with Basil in it. I would say maybe 5 or less out of 100! ^___^ Basil give strong smell and flavor and very few Thai would put Basil in this recipe with will not be authentic Panang curry anymore. Again, I am sad to hear that the famous Chaing Mai cooking school teach you guys that. Next time Try Wandee Cooking school in Bangkok. She is very famous among the Thai or Blue elephant cooking school also in Bangkok and more city in Europe. Try also to buy book from Sangdad publishing as they are very famous Thai Cooing cook publisher that produce cook book from famous Thai chefs. Also do you know that Panang is an Malasian influeced recipe. The name were from Penang, a town name in Malaysia. Cheers, Umaporn
  • Joann B
    Joann B
    Hi Joe, Just wondering what cup size is the mortar that Dawn uses in the video to make the panang paste? Is it the 1 1/2, 2 or 3 cup size? Thank you - love those videos. Jo Ann
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The one in the video is a 3 cup (at least I think so). I find the bigger they are the better - more sturdy and of course you can do more in them. Cheers!
  • Trevor A
    Trevor A
    I am going to prepare this in two days, and I am having trouble with some of the ingredients. I can't seem to find cumin seeds, only ground cumin - how much would I use? Is fish sauce and shrimp paste something I can find in most grocery stores? If subbing brown sugar for the palm sugar - same amount? When the paste is done, how long will it keep in the fridge and the freezer? Sorry for the newbie questions - but I'm a newbie!!!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Cumin seeds are generally easy to find; however if you can't find them you could use ground (generally you will need a bit less of the ground, about 1 tbsp ground for every 1 1/4 tbsp whole). I do encourage you to try and find whole cumin seeds though. As for the fish sauce and shrimp paste, these are becoming more and more available. You can try phoning your local grocer or even your local Thai or Asian restaurants to see where they buy them. For the brown sugar (if you cannot find palm sugar) you can just substitute 1 for 1. This paste will last for several months if frozen. In the fridge it will last for quite a few days. Curious whereabouts do you live? Hope this helps!
  • Trevor A
    Trevor A
    Thanks for the reply. It’s not the location, it’s me! I am REALLY new to cooking (I thought one of the 5 mother sauces was Arby’s sauce :) I am from Burlington, south of Toronto. I found everything except dried long chilies. I found short dried, and long fresh. I want to somewhat limit the heat, so I am drying the long ones in the oven at about 200 degrees. After about 6 hours they are looking close to the ones in the video. Do you think this is ok?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Good idea with drying the chilies...let us know how it turns out for you. Keep up the good work Trevor and welcome to the world of cooking! :-)
  • Kenshasa jade J
    Kenshasa jade J
    hi. is palm sugar available on groceries? is it easy to find? and how much doea it usually cost? and oh is there any coconut fruit sold in groceries? like the real fruit. and oh with the coco milk. where u got that fresh from the coconut fruit or in cans and packs? and oh w/c is better coco milk fresh from fruit or cocomilk sold in cans already pls help me.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Drill-downs are short, relevant videos that are attached to the recipes to provide more information on a particular topic. If you haven't seen them, there are two attached to this recipe: Palm sugar and coconut milk/coconut milk products are found in Asian markets and are becoming increasingly popular in the international isle of supermarkets. You can also easily buy these products online. Both are inexpensive and usually cost under $1-2 each (but this depends where you live). Also depending on where you live, fresh coconuts can also be found in the supermarket from time to time. Hope this helps!
  • Kenshasa jade J
    Kenshasa jade J
    thanks a lot
  • Leslie H
    Leslie H
    I have to laugh because between the amount of time it took me to track down the ingredients,(floods in Thailand made finding a few ingredients a bit challenging) prep and processing ingredients took about 10 hours (not straight of course but pretty much all day). At the 11th hour, I was cursing because my coconut cream was really milk. Had to spend another 20 minutes or so in order to reduce it to a cream. I said to my husband "this better be worth it!"..... LOL. The answer? Yes it was. Very, very good. We both loved it (: I'll make it again for sure. Next time I'll make sure I have all the ingredients before I start and perhaps prep the day before.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Nice work! Glad you stuck it out and enjoyed the dish. It does take more effort to make your own paste, but it is worth it. We usually make a big batch and freeze it. Measure out one recipe, place it into a small freezer bag and flatten it out. You can also place it all into one bag, flatten it out and cut off chunks as you need them. When buying coconut milk, make sure to look at the fat content that is displayed on the nutritional information. The higher the fat content, the more coconut cream will be in the can. Cheers!
  • Emily W
    Emily W
    Does anyone know of an actual substitute for curry leaves. I am making a green papaya curry which calls for them and as I do not know what flavor the curry leaves impart am unable to come up with a viable alternative.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I do not believe there is a true substitute for curry leaves as they are so unique. Many say that bay leaves, kaffir leaves or basil can be substituted but any of these would provide a different flavor than the curry leaves would. Here are a few other links you may want to check out. One is called Cook's Thesaurus (or Food Subs). This is a good site to bookmark as it has good info on ingredients and their possible substitutes. This link is to another resource that talks about curry leaves Best of luck - cheers!
  • Emily B
    Emily B
    Thank you for sharing such an excellent recipe! My husband and I loved it. Is there a way to make the paste in a large quantity and freeze/store somehow? I'd like to make it more often and having the homemade paste on-hand would sure help.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I have made this in larger batches several times using a food processor. The texture is not exactly the same but it certainly gets the job done a lot quicker. I usually invite a friend over and we do a big batch and then we share it. If stores properly in the freezer it will keep for quite a few months. Cheers!
  • Andrew R
    Andrew R
    In the recipe, it says to use dried, long red chillies for the paste and fresh chillies for garnish. I can see why you would use fresh chillies for garnish but what is the benefit of using dried chillies in the paste? If you're going to use fresh chillies to garnish. Would it be better to just mash up some fresh chilli into the paste instead of rehydrating the dried ones? I was just wondering if there was a reason for using the dried chillies over fresh? I was also wondering if anyone knew the optimum time to prepare the paste, for the best result? I've read various other comments about how it can last for few months in the freezer. I was just wondering if it is better to make the paste a few days in advance to allow the flavours to develop or to prep the paste immediately before cooking? Does anyone know which is best? With many thanks,
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The flavor of dried chiles is quite bit different than the flavor of fresh chilies. Chilies undergo a change when they dry, think of fresh tomatoes in comparison to sun-dried tomatoes - the flavor is much more concentrated and intense. Depending on how they are dried, they often have an earthy more smokey flavors after they have been dried. Fresh chilies also contain much more moisture and these are often suited for dishes where other raw ingredients are going to be cooked or used. The paste can be made just before using or it can be made ahead and frozen. We often do bigger batches and then vacuum pack smaller portions and then freeze them. To know if there really is a flavor difference between fresh, made a few days ahead or frozen, I would suggest that you do an experiment. Try each way then use it to cook the dish and see if you notice any difference. I would guess that the fresh and frozen ones would be the best, as the ingredients after sitting in the refrigerator for a few days may not be as fresh and vibrant tasting. But again, to really know, you would have to experiment. Cheers!
  • Mona S
    Mona S
    My shrimp paste doesn't look like the one pictured. It seems to have an oily component. Is this a special kind?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Mona- There are a few types of shrimp paste, some light and smooth, others darker. There's also shrimp pasta that comes packed in a bit of oil, and still another type that is sold in little blocks or pieces (i.e. it's dry paste). For making curry pastes, I prefer darker Thai shrimp pastes, but any will work. Remember, these pastes are super pungent, so a little goes a long way. Enjoy.
  • Laura A
    Laura A
    What side dishes would be a good compliment for this dish? I was thinking the cucumber sunomono salad might be nice. Are there others that would stand out? Thanks so much.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Traditionally, curries woudl be served with an array of other foods - like cold salads of cucumber, lettuces, carrot, and herbs. Bright, spicy, and herbal flavors pair well - both to add contrasting texture but also to add bright and bold flavors. Enjoy!

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