My friend Heather M. gave me a bunch of veggies from her garden including lots of Japanese eggplant. Then she posted on facebook about a Thai recipe and it got me poking around the internet. My favorite Thai dish by far is beef panang. I thought why not make eggplant panang? I looked at several recipes that used premade red curry paste, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to make it from scratch. Finally, I stumbled across this recipe.
The next step was to find a place to buy the exotic ingredients listed in the recipe. I went over to Yelp and did a search for “Thai Market” in my area code. Bangluck Market seemed like the best place to go. I decided at this point to make green curry (a recipe from culinary school) later in the week as long as I was going out to get ingredients. Reviews of the market were mixed. Some said it was dirty. Some said they didn’t take credit cards and that the parking was a nightmare. I headed over to Bangluck, not knowing quite what to expect.
Got there and scored a parking spot right in front of the store. One obstacle down. Went in, got a cart and started looking around. The shelves and flooring were obviously old and well used, but definitely not dirty. I got to the dried chile section. The recipe calls for large red dried chiles. Well, that doesn’t really help because they had several kinds. I found an employee and told him I was making panang and asked which chiles I should buy. He asked one of the female employees at the front and here’s what I ended up with:
I found everything else I needed with no help except for the coriander (cilantro) root. I figured I’d just add extra ground coriander to the recipe and not worry about it.
Here are some of my other spoils. Lime leaves and galangal:
Thai basil and thai green chilies:
Coconut Milk, Palm Sugar, and Shrimp Paste:
I came home and started making the panang paste right away. The recipe said to use a mortar and pestle. I have tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands. That just was NOT going to happen. So I used my trusty food processor. I threw ALL the listed ingredients except the meat and the coconut milk into the machine. Whizzed it up and ended up with this paste:
Ta-da! I just fried up the curry in the coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk can, added the milk, a little chicken broth and put the eggplant in. I’m gonna let it braise until my husband gets home and then eat it up. I cheated and tasted the sauce and it is as good as it looks!