This Chicken Panang Curry tastes better than your favorite restaurant at a fraction of the price with easy to find ingredients and on your table in less than 30 Minutes!!
This Chicken Panang Curry Recipe is lusciously coconut creamy, bursting with layers of flavor, and all made in one pot! You will never need to order Panang Curry again!
PANANG CURRY RECIPE VIDEO
Panang Curry Recipe
I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for, especially as we celebrated my 18th lung transplant anniversary yesterday! I have now lived longer with my new lungs as I did with my diseased ones thanks to continuous miracles. I posted a little about it on Instagram HERE. When my husband saw the photo, he said, “oh, that’s graphic!” But I wanted to share just how miraculous of a journey it has been for which I am grateful every single day! I truly believe we are only as happy as we are grateful, and to me, everyday is Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for enjoying this journey with me and for your continuous support!
So while Chicken Panang Curry might seem random to share along with my lung transplant anniversary, the two actually belong together because I either order Chicken Panang Curry or Chicken Pad Thai at almost every double lung transplant anniversary from my my favorite Thai restaurant. But NOW we can all make Chicken Panang Curry from the comfort of our own homes!
What is in Panang Curry?
Traditional Panang Curry is characterized by its thick creamy coconut milk base with splashes of lime, kaffir lime leaves, phanaeng curry paste, palm sugar, fish sauce and either shrimp or thin strips of chicken.
I have been making my own version of Chicken Panang Curry at home for years now, and you will be amazed at how much this tastes just like the restaurant version – if not better than most. When I was perfecting my recipe, however, I found my local stores did not often carry the authentic recipe ingredients of palm sugar, Kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil leaves. So after research and experimenting, I came up with my own “pantry friendly” version using easy substitutes. Kaffir lime leaves can be substituted by lime juice, bay leaves and dried thyme and palm sugar can be substituted by brown sugar.
What is Panang Curry Paste?
The only ingredient you might have to order or purchase at a specialty store to make this Panang Curry recipe is Panang Curry Paste (I use this Panang Curry Paste Mae Ploy) because Panang Curry Paste puts the PANANG in Panang Curry! The Paste is an explosion of flavors comprised of roasted peanuts, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, serrano chiles, and cumin – all gathered and ground for you! winning! The main difference between Panang Curry paste and Red Curry paste is Panang paste contains ground peanuts. It is also less spicy and slightly sweeter than red curry. But one thing they do have in common is tons of flavor with minimal effort.
PANANG CURRY RECIPE INGREDIENTS
The ingredients for this Panang curry recipe might look a little lengthy, but most of the ingredients are just whisked together. In addition to Panang curry paste, you will need:
- Chicken: you can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this recipe. I tend to use chicken breasts because they are leaner and emerge wonderfully juicy in the coconut bath, but chicken thighs would also be scrumptious – totally your call. Whichever you choose, make sure not to chop the chicken too small so it’s juicier and harder to overcook.
- Coconut milk: if you want to instantly elevate your Thai food, use Chaokoh coconut milk – my absolute favorite brand (Not a paid endorsement)! I love it so much that when my grocery store stopped carrying it, I started purchasing it on Amazon. Chaokoh is creamier than any other brand I’ve tried by FAR and therefore results in the most lusciously creamy, comforting sauces ever.
- Fish sauce: I promise fish sauce will not be detectable or make your mango chicken taste fishy! Fish sauce is a primary ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking and adds a fabulous umami flavor. My husband thinks he hates fish sauce but LOVES all of my Thai recipes ;).
- Lime juice: adds freshness and awakens the rest of the flavors. You may use fresh or bottled lime juice. I will freeze lime juice in cubes so I always have some on hand.
- Brown sugar: adds a hint of sweetness to balance the soy sauce and fish sauce. You may need more or less depending on how sweet your mangos are.
- Aromatics: ginger adds a warm, spicy, sharp peppery taste and garlic adds a pungent, herby, warm aromatic flair. Add more or less to taste.
- Basil: adds a layer of savory, peppery and slightly minty flavor.
- Bell peppers: red bell peppers for their sweet crunch.
- Asian chili sauce: adds a little heat and rounds out the flavors. I use sambal oelek but you can use your favorite. You can customize the spice level by adding additional chili sauce to taste. If you aren’t sure how much to add, you can start with less then stir in more at the end if needed or add it to your individual servings. If you think your mango chicken curry is something is missing – it is probably a kick of chili sauce.
- Soy sauce: you may substitute fish sauce with soy sauce if you don’t keep it stocked – but you will want to pick some up if you plan on doing more Thai cooking in the future.
- Powdered ginger and garlic: if you don’t have fresh ginger and garlic on hand and need to make this mango chicken NOW (I get you), you may substitute with powders. The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.
DO YOU HAVE TO USE FULL-FAT COCONUT MILK?
I don’t insist on full fat coconut milk but I HIGHLY suggest it if you would like restaurant-style creamy, flavorful mango chicken curry. Light coconut milk simply isn’t as thick or flavorful so you’re missing out on both flavor and texture. If you do use light coconut milk, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon cornstarch to help thicken it up.
CAN I MAKE PANANG CURRY VEGETARIAN?
Absolutely! You can replace the chicken with extra-firm tofu or replace the chicken with extra vegetables or chickpeas. To use tofu, place it in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes while you finish prepping the veggies, then proceed with stir frying it with the red curry paste.
IS THIS PANANG CURRY RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?
To make this gluten free panang curry, replace the soy sauce with tamari. The remaining ingredients should be gluten free but double check the label of your fish sauce and red curry paste.
How to Make Chicken Panang Curry
You will be shocked at just how quick and easy this Chicken Panang Curry recipe comes together once you have your paste. Another bonus is once you have the curry paste, it stays good in the refrigerator for some time so you can make your very own Chicken Panang Curry straight from your pantry anytime you feel like it – which will be very often.
As in all curry pastes, the key to unlocking the flavor is to is to saute it oil along with garlic and ginger. Next, we stir fry our chicken directly in the simmering Panang Curry Paste so it soaks up all the dynamic flavors before we add the coconut milk.
Next, my authentically blasphemous key to gorgeously, thick, silky coconut sauce is to whisk our quality coconut milk (I like Chakoah) with a little cornstarch. The end result is a rich, luscious coconut sauce that is soooo creamy. As Panang Curry sauce should be.
We then spike our coconut milk with sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, a bay leaf, dried thyme and salt. The lime, bay leaf and thyme are a pantry friendly substitute for kaffir lime leaves that tastes beautifully authentic. We simmer our coconut sauce for 5 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavor then add our bell peppers and basil and simmer 2-3 minutes or until peppers are crisp tender. That’s it for wonderfully coconut creamy, EASY Chicken Panang Curry!
Panang Curry Recipe Variations
Feel free to customize this Chicken Panang Curry recipe with whatever veggies suit your mood or use this Chicken Panang Curry to clean out your veggie drawer. It will be the most deliciously epic mash of veggies ever. You can also substitute the chicken for shrimp or tofu. You can serve it with noodles, rice or zoodles. You can add additional lime juice or sriracha. The customization of this Panang Curry is endless! And so will be your love. Here are some optitons:
- Add shrimp. The chicken can swapped for shrimp to make shrimp Panang curry! Instead of adding the shrimp with the curry paste, season the shrimp with the salt and pepper, then cook it separately with some oil just until opaque and cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a plate and add to the sauce at the end of cooking. Sauté the panang curry paste without the shrimp in some oil to bloom the spices then proceed with the recipe.
- Other proteins. You can also swap the chicken for cubed pork tenderloin, fish or tofu. When cooking fish, season it with salt and pepper and cook separately.
- Alternate veggies. You can mix and match the veggies based on what’s in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale. Some tasty alternatives would be broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, bok choy, snow peas, etc.
- Add nuts. Cashews add a deeply satisfying, buttery crunch. Take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts. To elevate your cashews, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM!
- Add coconut. Garnish with toasted sweetened coconut for extra coco-nutty yum.
- Add sesame seeds. Add a nutty sesame flavor. Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
- Add water chestnuts: also add a tantalizing crunch. Water chestnuts are easy to find in a can so you can keep them stocked and ready to go.
- Use Birdseye chilies. You are welcome to substitute the Asian chili paste for minced Birdseye chilies. You will want to remove the seeds and finely chop.
TIPS AND TRICKS PANANG CURRY
- Prep sauce and veggies before you start cooking. This chicken panang curry comes together in MINUTES once you start cooking, so make sure your bell peppers and aromatics are chopped before oil ever touches your pan.
- Don’t overcook chicken. For the juiciest chicken, don’t overcook! Brown it in the skillet but let it finish cooking in the sauce.
- Customize veggies. You can substitute the veggies for your favorites.
- Ginger pro tip. I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips. To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. You can add frozen ginger directly to your stir fry.
- Adjust to taste. Tasting the final Panang curry and adjusting to taste is crucial because all palates are different. Sweeten it up with additional brown sugar, add tang with additional lime juice, spice it up with additional Asian chili paste, add salt/more umami with additional fish sauce or salt and/or amp up the garlic and/or gingerfor a stronger punch of flavor.
HOW TO STORE PANANG CURRY RECIPE
This Panang curry makes exceptional leftovers and reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners.
- How to store: Panang curry should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.
- Microwave: transfer a portion to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- Stove: for larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often. You can microwave the rice as you’re warming the chicken on the stove.
PREP AHEAD PANANG CURRY
This chicken Panang curry comes together in less than 30 minutes, but if you want dinner to come together in minutes (if you’re hosting for example) then you can prep everything ahead of time. Here’s how:
- Chop chicken: chop the chicken and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Chop veggies and aromatics: chop the bell peppers, garlic and ginger 24 hours in advance and store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN PANANG CURRY
I do not recommend freezing the chicken Panang curry with the bell peppers because they become an unpleasant mushy texture. If you are making it for the sole purpose of freezing, otherwise, you may want to pick out the bell peppers of the portion you wish to freeze.
- Let the Panang curry cool to room temperature.
- Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn and seal.
- Label and freeze for up to three months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before warming according to above reheating directions.
WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH PANANG CURRY?
- Rice: chicken Panang curry is fabulous served with rice to mellow and absorb the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component. I prefer jasmine rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands’ off, easy side. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse your white rice until the water runs clear to achieve the fluffiest rice. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb options: cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Appetizers: turn this Panang chicken curry into a feast with Thai Chicken Satay or Peanut Pineapple Thai Chicken Satay, Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, or Thai Chicken Pizza. It is also delish with other Asian inspired, non-Thai appetizers such as Crab Rangoons, Homemade Egg Rolls, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, or potstickers.
- Bread: Naan or roti bread to soak up the delectable sauce.
- Salad: A simple green salad or Asian Pineapple Salad.
Looking for more Thai recipes?
- Thai Red Curry Coconut Chicken
- Pad See Ew
- Pad Thai
- Peanut Pineapple Thai Chicken Satay
- One Pot Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Coconut Curry Chicken
- Thai Green Curry
- Thai Yellow Curry
- Thai Chicken Flatbread Pizza
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Tools Used in This Recipe
Pantry Friendly 30 Minute Chicken Panang Curry
- 1 tablespoon coconut/olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons Panang curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand)*
- 2 pounds chicken breasts thinly sliced into 1/8” slices against the grain**
- 3 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 14 oz. cans quality coconut milk (Chaokoh is my favorite)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves roughly chopped
- fresh basil
- fresh lime juice
- Asian chili sauce
- Heat oil over medium high heat in large nonstick skillet. Add curry paste and saute for 1 minute.
- Add sliced chicken and cook just until chicken is no longer pink. Add ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds.
- Add 1 ½ cans coconut milk. Whisk cornstarch into remaining ½ can coconut milk then add to skillet. Stir in sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, bay leaf, thyme and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes then add red bell peppers and basil and simmer 2-3 minutes or until peppers are crisp tender. Discard bay leaf.
- Garnish with additional optional fresh basil, lime juice and chili sauce to taste. Serve with rice.
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