Panang Prawn Curry

I adore the killer combo of hot, salty, sweet and sour flavours that make Thai food so enticing. I’ve been going there for years to learn about the cuisine and I picked up the recipe for this Penang Curry from a chef called Jitty. She told me that this was a Bangkok version of the curry, very heavy with black pepper and served with juicy prawns. I have slightly adapted the recipe to my taste, adding in a dollop of peanut butter as I think the nuttiness works so well with the other flavours. You can batch make the curry paste and keep in the fridge for a few weeks or bung it in the freezer for longer so you can max out the spices needed.


  1. To make the curry paste, toast the star anise, peppercorns, cinnamon, coriander and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes in a small frying pan over a low heat, shaking the pan continuously until fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer to a spice grinder. Add the chilli flakes and sugar and grind until fine. Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, oil and 2 tbsp. of water and blend into a smooth paste. Add the peanut butter and blitz together.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok over a medium heat and add the spice paste. Stir-fry for about a minute until dark in colour and very fragrant. Add the coconut cream, fish sauce and lime juice. Mix well and bring to the boil.
  3. Chuck in the prawns into the sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the cooked through and tender. Add the Thai basil, mix well and serve immediately with rice.


Serves 4

For the spice paste
1 star anise
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp dry chilli flakes
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
½ inch ginger, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. groundnut oil
1 tbsp peanut butter

For the curry
2 tbsp. groundnut oil
400ml coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of a lime
500g raw peeled king prawns
A handful of Thai basil leaves
Rice to serve

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