Me, myself and Thai

Thai Beef panaeng, geng panaeng neua

Sometimes also spelt as Panang, this old school Thai curry has become one of my all time favourite dishes. Actually to my mind the correct spelling of the dish should be "Panaeng" but Google thinks otherwise! A panaeng curry  is perhaps one of the most popular in the Thai repertoire, salty sweet and redolent of thai basil, with a background taste of peanuts, the curry is enriched with coconut cream. This is one of the few curries normally made with beef, although chicken or pork can replace it. Usually the meat is braised before it is added to the curry, because meat in Thailand is so tough that it needs prolonged cooking.The best cut of beef to use therefore is one that is full- flavoured, has good texture and is able to sustain prolonged cooking, such as shank, rib,or brisket. Alternatively,finely sliced meat can be added to the curry after it has been
seasoned, to cook quickly.
I chose to cook this with beef. I think that this is a dish that benefits from the slower
cooking, so although it can be cooked quickly using rump steak I prefer to use braising steak or similar. This produces a dish where the melting texture of the slow cooked beef and the richness of the sauce is a heavenly combination! I garnished it with some some mild red chillies and a handful of Thai basil leaves.The dish is traditionally served in slices but you could,Depending on which cut of meat you choose serve it in chunksor thin strips,cut against the grain.

Beef panaeng, geng panaeng neua
200g ( 6oz ) beef brisket, skirt or cheek, sinew removed
4 cups coconut milk
3 cups coconut cream
11/2 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp nam pla ( Thai fish sauce)
extra 3 cups coconut milk optional (see method)
3 kaffir lime leaves, torn
3 long red or green chillies, cut in half and seeded
large handful of Thai basil leaves 

4 tbsp peanuts
7 dried long red chillies,deseeded soaked and drained

large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp scraped and chopped coriander root
11/2 tbsp chopped ginger
tbsp chopped lemongrass
tbsp chopped shallots
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 nutmeg, coarsely pounded and briefly roasted

First make the paste.Boil the peanuts for at least 30 minutes until very soft,drain and cool.Pound or blend the paste,adding the peanuts last.Blanch the meat from a cold water start ( to soften its flavour ) and rinse.Bring the coconut milk to the boil,add beef,then turn the heat down and braise gently until tender ~about 2 hours.Allow to cool in the liquid then remove and slice.Crack the coconut cream by simmering over a medium heat,then fry 4 tablespoons of paste in the coconut cream for 10 minutes.Season first with sugar and then, after a minute or so,the fish sauce.Moisten with the 3 cups of  coconut milk or the same amount of the beef braising liquid( the latter makes the curry very meaty,its a matter of preference).Add the sliced beef,simmer briefly to heat through,and finish with the remaining ingredients.


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