Panang beef curry

The Hairy Bikers panang beef curry is an authentic Thai recipe made with a freshly made curry paste
By Hairy Bikers
Panang beef curry
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the curry paste:

  • 6 green cardamom pods, pods split open, seeds only
  • 6 large dried red chilli
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 20 g galangal, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 10 kaffir leaves, finely shredded
  • 5 large Thai shallots, or 2 banana shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2.5 cm turmeric, finely grated or 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the curry:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 750 g lean stewing beef, chopped into 1 cm cubes
  • 5 lime leaves
  • 2 stems fresh green peppercorns, or 1 tbsp sweet brined green peppercorns from a jar
  • 250 ml beef stock
  • 2-3 red bird's eye chillies, slashed
  • 200 ml coconut milk, low-fat is fine
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into small dice
  • frsh coriander, to garnish
  • steamed rice, sprinkled with roasted chilli flakes, for serving

Tips and Suggestions

There will be enough paste to make 2 curries and you can store it in the fridge for 23 weeks or freeze for a month.

This recipe shows just how good Thai curries can be if you make your own pastes. Thai cooks make their curry pastes in a big deep pestle and mortar and give the ingredients a good pounding, with what looks like a policemans truncheon, instead of using a grinding motion. This works a treat.

You can also make this with prawns, pork or chicken. Just adjust the cooking times accordingly.


1. For the curry paste: Put the cardamom seeds in a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar.

2. Heat a small frying pan and dry roast the chillies for 23 minutes until slightly browned. Tip them into the small spice grinder or pestle and mortar with the cardamom seeds and return the frying pan to the heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds to the pan and roast them for a minute to release the flavours, then add them to the cardamom and chillies and grind or pound everything to a powder.

3. Add all the remaining ingredients and pound to make a paste, then set aside. If you prefer, use a spice grinder to blitz the spices to a powder, then transfer this to a food processor, add the remaining ingredients and process to a paste.
4. For the curry: You will need a medium-sized casserole dish with a lid. Place the dish on the heat and add the oil. Brown the meat on all sides, working in batches so you dont overcrowd the dish. When all the meat has been browned, tip it back into the casserole dish and add the curry paste. Stir to coat the meat with the paste and cook for 23 minutes.

5. Add the lime leaves, green peppercorns, beef stock and red chillies, then cover and leave to cook gently over a low heat for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. If you prefer, preheat the oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1 and cook the curry in the oven for a couple of hours or until the meat is tender. Have a look every now and then and if the curry looks like it is drying out, add a little water as needed.

6. When the curry is cooked, stir in the coconut milk, add the tomatoes and red pepper, then continue cooking for a further 10 minutes the pepper should still have a bit of crunch. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves and serve with some steamed rice sprinkled with roasted chilli flakes.

Recipe from The Hairy Bikers Asian Adventure published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback at £20, eBook £10.99.

Love recipes like this? Take a look at lots more of our Chinese recipes.

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