Panang Tacos

    Tacos loaded with all the ingredients of an authentic Thai Panang Curry


    • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
    • 1 Tablespoon Coriander
    • 1 Tablespoon Chile Flake
    • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
    • 7 Thai Chiles
    • 5 Shallots
    • 5 Stalks Lemongrass
    • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro Stems
    • 5 Cloves Garlic
    • 2 Inches Ginger
    • 1/4 Cup Peanuts
    • 5 Pounds Pork
    • 3 14 Ounce Cans Coconut Milk
    • 3 Chunks Galengal
    • 3 Lime Leafs
    • 1 Tablespoons Sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 Red Pepper (sliced thin)
    • 1 Very Small Head of Red Cabbage (sliced thin)
    • 1 English Cucumber (sliced thin)
    • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons Sambal Oelek
    • 1 Lime (juice)
    • Soft Corn Tortillas
    • 2 Lime Leaves
    • 1 Lime (juice)
    • For: 8 People
    • Preparation: 45 min
    • Cooking: 3 h
    • Ready in: 3 h 45 min


    1. Get all the paste ingredients ready to go, remove the fibrous outer leaves from the lemongrass and set aside. Slice the tender part of the lemongrass. Roughly chop the rest of the paste ingredients. Grind the spices if you are using whole spices.
    2. I did this in a mortar and pestle but feel free to use a food processor. Just add everything (only the tender parts of the lemongrass) one by one and pound it until it is incorporated into the paste.
    3. First you need to separate some coconut cream from the coconut milk. In this weather it should be already separated in the can. If you are somewhere warm or keep your house hot you can put the can into the fridge overnight. Anyway, open the cans and you will see the thick white coconut cream floated to the top. Use a spoon to scoop out 1 cup of the cream. Split it into 2 containers and put it into the fridge. Mix the rest of the contents from the 3 coconut milk cans in a large measuring cup or bowl.
    4. Chop the pork into cubes and brown in a pan on high heat. Once browned remove from the pan. Add in 1/2 of the coconut cream and once it is melted add the curry paste to it. Saute for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Add the meat back in and the rest of the coconut milk. Add in some of the fibrous lemongrass pieces and the galengal, fish sauce, and sugar.
    5. Let this simmer for about 3 hours. I did it in a slow cooker for about 4.
    6. Mix all the slaw ingredients and refrigerate.
    7. Mix the remaining half cup of coconut cream with the lime juice. Remove the chunks of lemongrass and galengal from the pork and shred it. Taste for seasoning and add more salt/sugar/fish sauce as needed. Brown the tortillas in a dry hot pan. Chiffonade the lime leaf. Build your tacos by starting with the pork, then topping with the slaw, followed by some coconut cream and then a pinch of the lime leaf.


    I haven’t made Panang from scratch in a long time and it was a lot of fun to get back into it. I used the curry as a sauce to braise some pork, and make some really amazing tacos. Instead of sour cream, they are topped with coconut cream that is spiked with a little lime juice. These taste like everything you want in a Panang curry, but in a perfect handheld form.

    I made the Panang paste in a mortar and pestle, but you can go ahead and do it in the food processor if you want.

    Nice and pasty. This is super fragrant.

    Sear off some pork shoulder and remove it from the pan.

    Then add the coconut cream to the pan. The way to get coconut cream is to open a cold can of coconut milk and scrape off the thick coconut cream that has separated to the top.
    Fry the Panang paste in the coconut cream. After about 5 minutes add the rest of the contents from the coconut milk can.

    I made this in a slow cooker but you can just do it on the stovetop. My stove has been acting up so this was my only option. Anyways, all the meat is in here and all the coconut milk and curry paste. Also some galengal, and the rough fibrous parts of the lemongrass.

    Meanwhile, the slaw. Cucumber, red pepper, and cabbage.

    Some sugar, chile paste, and lime juice finish it off.

    Mix some of the remaining coconut cream with lime juice.

    Lime leaf for the top of the taco.

    Brown up the tortillas before you build the tacos.

    Pork, then the slaw, then the coconut cream, and finally the lime leaf. These were soo good!

    Salty pungent meat, sour bright and fresh slaw, creamy cooling coconut cream, and that lime leaf flavor we all know in Panang. Perfect bites of food.

    This recipe seems like it is daunting, but it is actually pretty manageable and there is a lot of passive time.