Panang Beef Thai Curry

My favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Basil, serves the greatest Panang Curry I’ve ever had. It’s slightly sweet, spicy, and full of flavor. I knew once we moved some thirty miles from Chantilly that I had to create it for home. I puzzled for years on how to do it, throwing complicated recipes around and ruining tons of perfectly good beef. Finally, I broke down and took a class with Nongkran Daks, the chef at Thai Basil.

In a way, it was great to learn the secret. In another way, it was quite disheartening. Nong makes her own curry paste, you see, with lots of unique and rare Thai ingredients. I don’t know where I can conveniently find Kafir lime leaves, coriander root, and galanghal on a whim around here! Certainly not at the grocery store at the corner!

So, dismayed, I broke the whole recipe down and tried again, and found a reasonable fascimile I can make at home using premade curry paste. And the curry paste is the trick here! It will turn out really well with Thai Kitchen brand. Better (and cheaper!), though, would be something like this.

Panang Beef Curry


2 Tbsp lard or other cooking fat
2 lbs. skirt steak, cut into 1/2″ by 2″ strips
1 onion, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and chunked into 1″ long pieces
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste or panang curry paste
1 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk
1 Tbsp coconut aminos
1 Tbsp fish sauce
20 Thai basil leaves (optional)


  1. In wok or large frying pan, melt lard over medium-high heat
  2. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes
  3. Remove and set aside meat, add onions and carrots and cook until soft, about 8 minutes
  4. Return meat and add curry paste, stirring to coat
  5. Pour in coconut milk and stir until uniformly red
  6. Add aminos and fish sauce; stir and reduce to medium-low heat
  7. Simmer for 20 minutes
  8. Before serving add, Thai basil and stir to wilt
  9. Serve over cauliflower rice, our simple recipe is in Eat Like a Dinosaur

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  • Wow, I had no idea you all had lived in Chantilly.  That’s where I grew up.  Right around the corner from that restaurant actually, though I don’t think it was there when I moved away.  🙁  Psyched about this recipe though!  Looks amazing.  Thanks!

    •  Way back in the day we lived in the Chantilly Crossing apartments before they put in the Target and Costco.

      • Oh ok!  I lived in what used to be a cute little neighborhood behind where the Pohanka dealership is.  All the houses got torn down though (except one) and they put up apartments and townhouses.  Although the street where our driveway used to be was named after us, so it’s kind of cool I guess.  

  • Michelle

    I recently discovered making my own Thai curry at home and we’re in love.  We use the brand you linked to, only the red curry paste, coconut milk, then lime juice, fish sauce, and a bit of honey.  I read somewhere that you need to balance the four – spicy, sweet, tangy, salty.  We do chicken w/ zucchini and broccoli and it’s just amazing.  Will have to try the panang paste with beef next!

  • Kristin

    um YES thai basil is super awesome! i’ll have to try this homemade version for sure

  • Elizabeth Foss

    I live just four miles from Thai Basil and now you’ve created a craving in me! Off to try the recipe….

  • Emily

    That looks so good!  I am going to have to make this soon.  We made “Rat on a Stick” recently and the kids devoured them.  I was pleasantly shocked…never thought they’d take to Thai curry like they have, but I’m glad they did!

  • Dania Rottman

    My favorite food!! I can’t wait to try this. Panang beef is the only thing I ever order when I go out for Thai food. Sounds so easy and delicious. Thank you, thank you!!

  • Michelle

    Mae Ploy also has an excellent Panang Curry paste and is easy to find.

  • Orielwen

    It’s really worth making your own curry paste. Try Asian supermarkets for fresh galangal and lemongrass, or there’s a few places you can order online. Also great for making tom yum soup.

    The only thing we can’t seem to get hold of is kaffir limes: leaves are no problem, but the limes themselves just aren’t available anywhere. Ordinary limes can substitute but aren’t the same. We’re going to buy a kaffir lime tree and keep it in a pot.

    • Orielwen

      Oh, and coriander root is just the root of the coriander herb (I think you lot call it cilantro?). Just dig a bit up, wash it and chop.

      • Yes, I’ve actually made it that way before. But most people aren’t going to go through the trouble that I did, so I made it simple for them.

  • Stacey

    By far my favorite dinner on my very new paleo journey- I forgot the basil but that just means I will have to make it again soon! Amazing.