For the Love of Curry
Crazy for Southeast Asian curries? Find out how to make the real thing in your own kitchen
Words & Photos: Chef Santi Wongsawat
It’s no surprise to me that Phanaeng is considered the best curry in the world. This is not because I’ve always been a fan of Thai cuisine but because this creamy, orange curry has a uniquely sweet and slightly spicy flavour that enchants diners across the world. Those flavours come from authentic ingredients, most of which can actually be found in our own backyard. I recommend serving the curry with steamed Jasmine rice to enhance the flavour, adding joy to the experience as you sit down to eat with your loved ones.
Trust me when I say that making a delicious Phanaeng Gai (chicken) is not difficult. You don’t need to spend long hours in a cooking class to perfect this dish. In fact, simply ensure all the ingredients are authentic since rich coconut milk and a bold curry paste are the cornerstone of a perfect Phanaeng.
The final step is easy – eating the chicken bathed in rich curry sauce delivers a burst of sweet, savoury and slightly sour flavours. Don’t forget to top your serving with a sprinkle of oil and kaffir lime zest for a refreshing touch.
Thai spicies and the paste are key to this curry’s fragrant aroma. The cooking instructions are pretty simple too. Just follow these steps to enjoy your very own serving of homemade Phanaeng Gai.
- 30 grams Phanaeng curry paste
- 200g skinless chicken thigh
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 2 cups diluted coconut cream
- 15g fish sauce
- 10g palm sugar
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
- 3 shredded kaffir lime leaves
- 5g sliced capsicum (bell pepper)
Phanaeng curry paste ingredients
- 10 red capsicums
- 2 sticks lemongrass
- 7 shallots
- ½ cup garlic
- ½ thinly sliced galangal
- 1 tsp kaffir lime peel
- 1 tbsp coriander root
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp ground coriander seeds
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tbsp crushed peanuts
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
- Prepare Phanaeng curry paste by pounding all ingredients in a mortar
- Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces (pork or fatty beef is pefect too)
- Simmer the coconut cream
- Stir-fry the curry paste with the coconut cream until the mix releases a fragrant aroma. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked and well-mixed with the curry paste
- Add the chicken to the simmered coconut cream. Increase the heat until it starts boiling, then lower. Season the mix with fish sauce, sugar, and a bit of kaffir lime juice. Add stir-fried crushed peanuts and simmer until the curry thickens and the oil separates
- Taste the curry. The perfect Phanaeng should be slightly spicy, sweet, rich thanks to the coconut cream and savoury with a touch of sour. Dress it with basil leaves and sliced red capsicums. Now it’s time to serve!