Oh, curry! You never let us down. We’ve done green and red curry pastes, but considering panang curry is one of our favorite Thai curries, it was time we tried our hand at homemade panang curry paste!
Our inspired version is vegan, gluten-free, and naturally sweetened but makes a similarly rich, peanutty, savory-sweet curry that’s just as good as takeout (stay tuned for that recipe!). Let us show you how it’s done!
What is Panang Curry Paste?
Panang curry paste is the key flavor ingredient in the wonderful, savory-sweet Thai panang curry. Common ingredients used to make it include dried chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass, makrut lime zest, cilantro root and seeds, garlic, shallot, shrimp paste, salt, and peanuts.
Our version is not traditional but rather an inspired vegan take made without shrimp paste and with ingredients easier to find in our region! Learn more about panang curry paste and find a more traditional recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen.
How to Make Panang Curry Paste
Our version begins with deseeding and rehydrating dried Thai red chili peppers. These mighty little peppers are SPICY and can make your skin feel fiery, so you’ll want to either wear gloves or wash your hands very thoroughly afterward and avoid touching your eyes and face for a while!
Next, we toast and grind cumin and coriander seeds to bring out their flavor. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate their aroma because there’s nothing quite like it!
Then it’s time to bring it all together in a blender. Zesty lime and fresh ginger take the place of makrut lime zest and galangal used in more traditional recipes. Miso paste is not traditional either, but we found it does a great job of replacing the umami typically provided by shrimp paste.
Peanut butter takes the place of peanuts to create a creamy base, maple syrup balances the heat, and we kept some of the classic essentials like garlic and lemongrass. All that’s left is salt, red onion, and oil or water to encourage blending.
We hope you LOVE this panang curry paste! It’s:
& SO versatile!
It’s ideal for making panang curry (recipe coming soon), soups, sauces, salad dressings, and more! Whatever dish you land on, we have a feeling it’ll be spicy and pair perfectly with a cooling Thai-inspired dish like our Vegan Thai Iced Tea, Rainbow Spring Rolls, or Vegan Papaya Salad.
More Flavor-Packed DIY Sauces
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Servings 12 (2-Tbsp servings)
- 1/4 cup dried Thai chili peppers* (~25 small Thai chili peppers)
- 1 ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
- 1 ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped (1/2 medium onion yields ~1/2 cup or 80 g // or sub shallot)
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1-2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil (if oil-free, sub water)
- 1 Tbsp white, yellow, or chickpea miso paste (ensure gluten-free as needed // learn about miso here)
- 2 Tbsp lemongrass, roughly chopped (1 stalk yields ~2 Tbsp)
- 2 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped (2-inch piece yields ~2 ½ Tbsp or 20 g)
- 4 tsp lime zest (2 large limes yield ~4 tsp)
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tsp sea salt
You may want to wear gloves if you have sensitive skin, and/or wash your hands thoroughly after deseeding. See more in Notes below.First, deseed the Thai chili peppers by trimming the stem ends and carefully cutting a lengthwise slit in each pepper, opening it, and using your fingers to scrape out the seeds. Place your deseeded peppers in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
Add whole coriander and cumin seeds to a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and slightly deeper in color, shaking / stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn!
Once seeds are toasted, add to a mortar and pestle and crush a bit. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, slightly cool the seeds, add them to a sandwich bag, and crush with a rolling pin or a heavy pan. Set aside.
Drain the soaked chilis and add them to a small blender (or small food processor) along with the toasted spices and remaining ingredients (onion, peanut butter, maple syrup, oil / water, miso paste, lemongrass, ginger, lime zest, garlic, and salt).
Blend / mix until a paste forms, scraping down the sides as needed. The lemongrass can be difficult to grind at first, but give it time! Add more water or oil as needed to encourage blending.
Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lime zest for brightness, salt for overall flavor, chilies for heat, maple syrup for sweetness, oil (or water) for creaminess / to thin, garlic for zing, or peanut butter for richness.
Store curry paste in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. For longer storage, transfer paste to an ice cube tray, freeze, then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month.
This curry paste is ideal for curries (recipe coming soon!), soups, sauces, salad dressings, and more!
*If you’d prefer a milder curry, we suggest dried guajillo chiles.
*If your hands burn after deseeding the peppers, we’ve found the best remedy is to rub some oil (olive or avocado work well) on your hands, then wash thoroughly with soap (dish soap works best). This works because the spiciness comes from the oil of the peppers, and rubbing neutral oil on your hands helps to attract and remove it. Be safe out there!
*Recipe as written makes ~1 ½ cups curry paste.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of avocado oil.
Serving: 1 (two tablespoon) serving Calories: 83 Carbohydrates: 8.6 g Protein: 2.2 g Fat: 4.8 g Saturated Fat: 0.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9 g Monounsaturated Fat: 2.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 427 mg Potassium: 102 mg Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 4.8 g Vitamin A: 659 IU Vitamin C: 1.4 mg Calcium: 20 mg Iron: 0.4 mg