Panang Curry Recipe with Crispy Tofu
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission.
Panang Curry Recipe
Have you tried our popular Chicken Panang Curry Recipe? It’s actually one of our most-loved recipes here on A Spicy Perspective.
If you haven’t… Well, you are missing out.
However, today is your lucky day! We’re sharing a vegetarian version, so you can now make our Thai Chicken Curry, or this plant-based Panang Curry instead.
They are both bold and ridiculously delicious, with authentic Thai flavors, a decadent silky texture, and a pop of spicy heat!
What Is Panang Curry?
You might be asking yourself what does “Panang” mean?
Panang is derived from the ancient Khmer language. The Thai people adopted this language as their own, therefore this particular Panang Curry Recipe is identified as a Thai recipe.
Panang means “cross”, specifically referring to the position of the legs, and originally speaking on the legs of the chickens.
Panang Curry is a gravy-style curry dish that typically consists of meat and no vegetables with the exception of peppers, onions, and kaffir lime leaves.
This gravy-like consistency of a dish is generally served over rice. The rice adds substance to the curry to fill you up.
What Is The Difference Between Thai Red Curry And Panang Curry?
Panang Curry is a type of red curry.
However, it contains additional ingredients, most importantly crushed peanuts.
Panang curry also tends to be a little milder than most red curries, and slightly sweeter. That makes is great dish for western palates!
It has the bold zesty Thai flavors you crave, while not being too spicy for most people.
Thai Panang Curry Ingredients
- Tofu – A great meatless option for this Panang Curry Dish. Buy the extra-firm variety for this recipe.
- Coconut Oil – To saute the veggies.
- Onion – To add lots of zesty flavor.
- Green, Yellow, and Red Bell Pepper – Taste the rainbow! These sweet peppers bring color and texture to the dish.
- Garlic – A staple for depth of flavor.
- Panang red curry paste – Find at your local Asian market.
- Peanut Butter – Most panang curry pastes contain peanuts. However, they do not have as much as traditional Thai curry pastes. So we’re adding a little more.
- Kaffir lime leaves – To provide a very distinct Thai herbal flavor.
- Coconut milk – To create a creamy sauce. Buy the thickest variety you can find.
- Fish sauce – Another very distinct Thai flavor, that adds saltiness and a pungent quality. *If you are a very strict vegetarian, you can substitute soy sauce, but fish sauce tastes more authentic.
- Thai basil leaves – To add freshness at the end.
How To Make Panang Curry
- Prep the Tofu. Wrap the tofu in paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Set a heavy pot, or cast iron skill, over the tofu to squeeze out the moisture. Unwrap the tofu and cut it into small cubes.
- Saute the Tofu. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add coconut oil and the tofu cubes. Sauté until the tofu has a light golden crust on all sides. Then transfer to the oven and bake.
- Saute the Vegetables. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic.
- Create the Curry. Move the veggies to the sides of the skillet and add the panang red curry paste and peanut butter to the center of the pan. Sauté the curry for 2-3 minutes to intensify the flavor. Then add the kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Stir to blend.
- Simmer. Lower the heat and simmer, until the curry thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the basil leaves and crispy tofu.
Get The Full (Printable) Thai Panang Curry Recipe with Crispy Tofu Below!
Vegetarian Thai Curry
You will immediately want to make this recipe and eat the whole dish in one sitting!
However, it’s important to note, that some ingredients are only found in Asian markets.
Do yourself a favor and look up the closest Asian market right now. You’d be surprised, most towns have at least one Asian market. It will quickly become a favorite stop for grocery shopping.
Panang Curry with Crispy Tofu FAQ
As mentioned above, you will need to make a stop at a local Asian market. However, this recipe is worth the trip… And Asian markets are tons of fun to explore!
Maybe… All curry pastes are a little different, and some do tend to be spicy. If you are unsure if you can handle the heat, start by adding half a can of curry paste. You can also add more later.
Yes! As long as the curry paste and fish sauce you buy are gluten free, the entire recipe is as well. Most are, but be sure to check the ingredients. P.S. This recipe is dairy free as well!
This recipe will keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Keep in an airtight container.
More Favorite Asian Recipes
- Easy Chicken Pad Thai
- Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
- Classic Thai Fried Rice
- Authentic Tom Yum Soup
- Slow Cooker Asian Meatballs
- Asian Stir Fried Mushrooms
- Crunchy Asian Slaw with Peanut Dressing
Panang Curry with Crispy Tofu
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil, divided
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 bell peppers green, red, and yellow, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces Panang red curry paste, 1 can
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 12 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
- 13.5 ounces thick coconut milk, unsweetened
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup Thai basil leaves or sweet basil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap the tofu in paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Set a cast iron skill over the tofu to squeeze out the moisture. Leave for at least 5 minutes.
- Unwrap tofu and discard the paper towels. Cut the tofu into small 1/2-3/4 cubes. Sprinkle the tofu cubes generously with salt.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil and the tofu cubes. Sauté for 5 minutes, flipping to cook on all sides, until the tofu has a light golden crust on all sides.
- Transfer the cubes to a baking sheet and place them in the oven for 12-15 minutes to crisp. Set the large cast iron skillet back on the stovetop to reuse.
- Meanwhile, chop the onions and peppers into rough 1-inch pieces. Mince the garlic. Then crush the kaffir lime leaves to help release their oils.
- Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining coconut oil. Once the oil melts, add the onions. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the peppers and garlic. Sauté another 2-3 minutes.
- Move the veggies to the sides of the skillet and add the panang red curry paste and peanut butter to the center of the pan. Sauté the curry for 2-3 minutes to intensify the flavor, moving around the pan. Then add the kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Stir to blend.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the curry thickens. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the basil leaves and crispy tofu. Serve with rice, quinoa, or noodles. *You can also ladle the curry into bowls and top with crispy tofu instead of stirring it into the curry.
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!