You may be asking yourself, is this really happening right now? Can it really be true? And the answer is yes. The panang curry recipe that I excitedly posted about on facebook nearly two months ago, is finally here. I don't blame you if you've forgotten all about it... two months is a long time to wait. I feel that an apology and explanation is due on my part. After all, my last recipe post was a whole month ago, and I should be grateful that you haven't forgotten all about me. So, first things first. What's up? Where have I been? Well, for starters, in an effort to get my work life back in order, I've been a little less attentive to keeping up with the blog. It's a really enjoyable outlet for me- creating and testing new recipes, getting the pictures together, writing whatever thoughts that have been at the front of my mind. However, it also makes for a very convenient distraction, which isn't an issue except that for much of this summer, I've been really embracing distractions. Hence the neglect. I cut myself off. The need to get it in gear was compounded by the start of fall quarter in early October. My summer of loose scheduling and working from home every day has sadly come to an end. I don't have classes nor am I teaching, but I have meetings out my ears. Luckily, I can still do most of my work from home, but my flexibility has been reigned in a bit. Although I hate to admit it, it's probably for the better right now. I have finally gained some focus and a plan, I have both immediate and long-term objectives, and even though I'm approaching these tasks a little begrudgingly, it's giving me that little boost of momentum I need.
Prep Time: 1 1/2 hour
Cook Time: 30 min
Yields: 3-4 servings (plus extra paste)
CURRY PASTE INGREDIENTS
1 shallot, very finely minced (~ 2 heaping TBS)
4 cloves garlic, microplaned or finely minced (~ 2 tsp)
1 1/2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped up to the leaves and very finely minced (~ 2 TBS)
1" chunk of ginger, microplaned or finely minced (~ 1 1/2 TBS)
1-2 coriander/cilantro roots, finely minced (~1 tsp)
about a dozen dried Thai chilies
2 TBS finely crushed peanuts (unsalted)
1 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds, 3/4 tsp whole cumin seed, 1/4 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp salt
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp shrimp paste
CURRY PASTE INSTRUCTIONS
You want to start your paste by mincing up all of your fresh ingredients (shallots through coriander root) as finely as possible. Two important notes here. One, keep everything separate- you won't be adding all of the ingredients to the mortar at the same time. Two, when I say mince as finely as possible, I mean really mince everything as finely as you possibly can. The key to a good curry paste is grinding down everything as finely as possible. You want to try to do as much work as you can with your knife and cutting board, because the rest of the work is going to be on your forearms. I like to blitz my peanuts into a fine crumb in the food processor to move those along as well.
With the fresh ingredients finely minced and set aside, get to de-seeding your chilies. To de-seed, snip off the top of the chili and roll the chili (cut-side down) between your fingers. Set them in a small pot with about a cup of water and simmer them for about 5 minutes. While the chilies are re-hydrating toast your spices. Toast the coriander seeds over medium to medium high heat until fragrant and lightly brown (a couple of minutes). Do the same with the cumin seed, only they should toast faster.
Add your toasted spices to the mortar along with the white peppercorns, and grind them to a fine powder. Scrape the powder out of the mortar and set it aside. Next add the re-hydrated chilies (drained) and the salt and grind to a fine paste. Add the spices back in and give that another good grind to blend and smooth. Next add the ginger, lemongrass, coriander root, and kaffir lime leaves (it's helpful to crush these with your hands before adding) and grind to a fine paste. Now add in the shallots and garlic and, once again, grind to a fine paste. Add in the peanuts and (you guessed it) grind to a fine paste. Lastly, add in the shrimp paste and grind until your arm gives out.
(Feel free to use whatever vegetables and add-ins sound good to you- panang defines the curry paste, you can define the rest)
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 small onion, halved and sliced
2 bell pepper, quartered and sliced
1 TBS coconut oil, 1/4 cup panang curry paste
1 cup full fat coconut milk (divided), 3 kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce, 1 TBS sugar
Note: If you're going to cook rice (and I do recommend it), now would be a good time to get it started
Get a large, wide-brimmed pan over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Stir the curry paste into the oil and let this saute for a couple of minutes, or until quite fragrant. Add in 1/4 cup of coconut milk to deglaze the pan. Add in the kaffir lime leaves and saute until the coconut milk has cooked off. Now add in your onions, peppers, and pineapple and toss them in the curry paste to coat. Add the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar and mix well. Let this simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 - 15 minutes
Fish out the kaffir lime leaves and remove them before serving