Vegan Panang Curry – Connoisseurus Veg

This vegan panang curry is bursting with flavor! Made with pan-fried tofu, peppers and potatoes in a creamy coconut peanut butter curry sauce, it’s absolutely delicious so easy to make.

White wooden surface set with bowl of Vegan Panang Curry, bowl of rice, and blue pot.

Do you have a favorite curry? I’d have a hard time choosing one. That would be like asking me to pick a favorite cat. (I love all my fur-babies.) But panang curry definitely has a lot going for it.

Panang curry is similar to red curry, but a tad sweeter, milder, and…with peanut butter. OH YEAH.

You may or may not be lucky enough to find a vegan panang curry at a restaurant while dining out. Like lots of other Thai curries, panang curry is often made with non-vegan ingredients like meat, and the curry paste may contain fish sauce or shrimp paste. Check out my guide to vegan Thai cuisine for the full-low down on what Thai dishes are vegan-friendly.

With that in mind, I challenged myself to create a vegan version of classic Thai panang curry, and this was the delicious result!

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Vegetable oil. You can use any neutral high-heat oil. Peanut oil, coconut oil, corn oil, and avocado oil are all great options.
  • Onion.
  • Bell peppers. The recipe calls for one red and one orange bell pepper. Feel free to use two red or orange, or to replace either or both with yellow bell peppers. I don’t recommend green peppers for this recipe — stick with sweeter ones!
  • Panang curry paste. Make sure you’re using a vegan brand of curry paste (many aren’t!). I like Maesri panang curry paste for this recipe.
  • Peanut butter. Use natural (runny) peanut butter. Processed peanut butter will probably be too sweet for this recipe.
  • Coconut milk. The recipe calls for full-fat coconut milk, but light coconut milk will work if you’re looking to reduce the fat and calorie content of the dish.
  • Potato. I used a russet potato, but a couple of red or yellow potatoes will also work. You could even use a sweet potato!
  • Tofu. Ideally, use super-firm tofu. Firm or extra-firm tofu can be substituted, but you’ll need to press it before cooking.
  • Lime juice. Use freshly squeezed juice — not bottled!
  • Salt.
  • Fresh basil. Use Thai basil or holy basil if you can. if not, Italian basil works just fine (it’s what I used!).
  • Peanuts. Salted and roasted peanuts work best.
  • Rice. We’ll be serving our vegan panang curry over rice. I like jasmine rice best with my Thai curries, but any variety will do.

Tip: You’re welcome to switch up the vegetables if you’re not a fan of peppers and potatoes. Some veggies, like broccoli and leafy greens, will cook up relatively quick. Add them during the last few minutes of simmering, when the pot is uncovered. Harder veggies like carrots and green beans will need to be added earlier and cooked with the lid on.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

Diced onions cooking in a pot.

Heat your oil in a pot and add diced onion. Sweat the onion for a few minutes, until it begins to soften.

Onions and bell peppers cooking in a pot.

Raise the heat a bit and stir in sliced bell peppers. Cook the peppers with the onion for about a minute, until they brighten in color and soften slightly.

Curry paste cooking in a pot with sliced peppers and onions.

Push the peppers and onions to the side, then add the curry paste and peanut butter in the space you created. Sauté the mixture for about a minute.

Hand pouring coconut milk into a pot of peppers, potatoes, and curry paste.

Add the coconut milk and potato to the pot. Give it a stir, cover it up, lower the heat and let it simmer until the potato is tender.

Tip: Make sure to uncover the pot and give the curry a stir every few minutes, otherwise the potatoes might not cook evenly. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot when stirring, to prevent the sauce from burning.

Tofu cubes cooking in a skillet.

Pan-fry the tofu while the curry simmers. Place the cubes in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, then cook them for a few minutes until they’re golden brown and crispy, flipping them once or twice.

Vegan Panang Curry simmering in a pot on the stove.

After your curry has simmered for about fifteen minutes, start checking in for doneness by uncovering it and piercing potatoes with a fork. When the fork goes into the potatoes easily, the curry is just about done.

Pan-Fried tofu being stirred into a pot of Vegan Panang Curry.

Stir the cooked tofu cubes into the curry, then let it simmer for another minute or two.

Hand stirring basil into a pot of Vegan Panang Curry.

Take the pot off of heat and stir in the lime juice. Season the curry with salt to taste, then stir in chopped fresh basil.

White wooden surface set with a pot of Vegan Panang Curry and bunch of fresh basil.

Your panang curry is ready to enjoy! Serve it over rice and sprinkle it with peanuts.

Leftovers & Storage

Vegan panang curry will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about three days. I don’t recommend freezing this dish.

More Vegan Thai Curries

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Pot of Vegan Panang Curry with a wooden spoon.

Vegan Panang Curry

This vegan panang curry is bursting with flavor! Made with pan-fried tofu, peppers and potatoes in a creamy coconut peanut butter curry sauce, it’s absolutely delicious so easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2
    tablespoons
    vegetable oil,
    divided
  • 1
    medium onion,
    diced
  • 1
    medium red bell pepper,
    sliced into strips
  • 1
    medium orange bell pepper,
    sliced into strips
  • 4
    tablespoons
    vegan Panang curry paste,
    plus up to 2 additional tablespoons, to taste
  • 2
    tablespoons
    creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1
    (13.5 once/400 ml) can
    full-fat coconut milk
  • 1
    medium russet potato,
    scrubbed and diced (about ½ inch)
  • 8
    ounces
    super-firm tofu,
    diced (about ½ inch)
  • 1
    tablespoon
    lime juice,
    plus more to taste
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt,
    plus more to taste
  • ¼
    cup
    roasted and salted peanuts,
    roughly chopped
  • Cooked rice,
    for serving

Instructions

  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with one tablespoon of the oil and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion for about five minutes, until it become soft and translucent, stirring often.

  2. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the red bell pepper and orange bell pepper. Cook the peppers with the onion for about 2 minutes, stirring often, until they brighten in color and begin to soften.

  3. Push the peppers and onion to the side, then add the curry paste and peanut butter to the middle of the pot. Sauté the paste and peanut butter for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning.

  4. Stir in the coconut milk and potato. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Let the curry cook at a low simmer for about 15 minutes. Uncover the pot and give it a good stir every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning and ensure that the potatoes cook evenly. You can proceed to the next step of cooking the tofu while the curry simmers.

  5. Coat the bottom of a medium nonstick skillet with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the diced tofu in an even layer. Cook the tofu cubes for about 10 minutes, until golden brown, flipping them once or twice. Transfer the tofu to a plate when done.

  6. Check on the curry after it has simmered for 15 minutes. It’s done when a potato can be easily pierced with a fork.

  7. Once the potatoes are done, stir the tofu into the curry and let it simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more.

  8. Remove the pot from heat. Stir in the lime juice and season the curry with salt. Stir in the basil.

  9. Serve the curry over rice with a sprinkle of peanuts.

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Panang Curry

Amount Per Serving

Calories 396
Calories from Fat 252

% Daily Value*

Fat 28g43%

Saturated Fat 12g60%

Trans Fat 0.04g

Polyunsaturated Fat 8g

Monounsaturated Fat 7g

Sodium 466mg19%

Potassium 828mg24%

Carbohydrates 23g8%

Fiber 4g16%

Sugar 6g7%

Protein 18g36%

Vitamin A 1866IU37%

Vitamin C 90mg109%

Calcium 83mg8%

Iron 4mg22%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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