How do you describe the joy that results when you finally recreate your most favorite restaurant meal ever? I don’t know that it is describable in words, but I hope that you can imagine it with me and share in my joy.
John and I went met at college in Birmingham and eating at the various Surin restaurants as we moved throughout the city was one of the constants of our dating and married life for the 13 years we were in Birmingham. I remember eating there with John, and my Dad and David the night before Grant was born. And then us all celebrating Grant’s 1 year birthday there with my parents a couple of weeks before Lu was born. Surin was a favorite lunch place for my colleagues and I at each of the accounting firms that I worked, and the I never had to buy tupperware because we always had plenty of plastic takeout containers from the nights when we got take-out from Surin.
In all those years, there is no telling how many orders of Chicken or Tofu panang I ate. It is my move favorite food in the world and I would happily eat it every day.
That has now become a very real possibility!
I’ve tried to make panang curry at home before and it never quite hit the mark. And I’ve tried panang curry at other Thai restaurants and it’s never quite as good as I remember. Surin’s Thai foods are described by this Birmingham food critic as “Thai on training wheels” so authentic ingredients, but with American tastebuds in mind.
A few weeks ago, once again desolate that there are no good gluten free restaurant options anywhere near the place we cam outside Orlando, I decided to try again. I re-read this post and recipe from Chez Pim, and between her recipe, and her tips for using canned curry paste, and the instructions on the can of curry, I came up with a recipe that completely satisfied my panang cravings…..two nights in a row =)
Chicken Panang Curry
(yield: plenty for multiple servings for two adults and 3 children who all love panang, but no leftovers)
2 oz. of Maesri red curry paste (approx 1/2 can)
2 – 14 oz. cans coconut milk
1.5 Tbsp Gourmet Garden lemon grass paste
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp Thai Kitchen fish sauce
1.25 lbs chicken breast, sliced thin
1 large green bell pepper, julienned
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
Red pepper flakes to taste
Start by preparing the chicken and peppers. Then get out a large pot (I use my short stock pot) and add half a can of coconut milk and the red curry paste and mix those together over medium heat. Then add the remainder of the coconut milk, the lemongrass, brown sugar, and fish sauce and stir until well combined. Bring the curry to a simmer and add the bell peppers and chicken. When the chicken is cooked through (it doesn’t take long) and the peppers are tender, then the curry is ready to serve.
I serve this curry over rice, and for the sake of my husband’s convenience, I’m putting the recipe for that here =) Once again, I’m working in mixed units of measurements because the mental math was easier that way, and that’s what I’ve memorized.
540 gramslong grain white rice
48 oz. water
Put the water and rice into a large pot. Heat on high until the water boils, then turn the heat down to low for 20 minutes.
1. If you were to double this recipe, then I would only increase the coconut milk to 3 cans and would add 1 cup of water. The two cans of coconut milk in this recipe make the curry a little thicken than I remember.
2. I have listed the particular brands of ingredients that I used. I feel very strongly that you should not make ingredient substitutions. The Maesri curry paste does not use hot peppers; the Thai Kitchen red curry paste tow. They are not equivalent to one another. You’ll probably be tempted to use the Thai Kitchen curry paste because it’s available in grocery stores. Make the trip to the nearest oriental market to get the Maesri curry paste.
Also, do not use soy sauce or tamari instead of fish sauce. The fish sauce doesn’t smell very good, but you won’t notice the smell in the recipe. This will not taste like panang curry if you don’t use the fish sauce.
And finally, the lemongrass is expensive, but it is a key ingredient. Do not leave it out because you are unfamiliar with it. Most larger grocery stares and Walmart carry the Gourmet Garden herbs in the produce section.
3. You can totally make this vegetarian, by using tofu instead of chicken. I may actually like it better with tofu than chicken =).