Trader Joe’s Vegetable Panang Curry Review – When I was a child, we lived in Thailand for two years. My father was working at the American Embassy in Bangkok. It is an experience I will never forget. Growing up in Maryland was an odd experience for a little kid. Things were so different than our cushy suburban life. It was very exotic to me. The smells and the food were what stood out to me the most. Even as an adult I can walk into an Asian market and get transported back to Thailand by the smells or the taste of a particular food. Those memories have never left me and it’s probably why I still eat Thai food whenever I can get the chance.
As you have probably noticed, Thai food has become very popular over the past couple of decades and for good reason. It’s healthy and flavorful and there are a lot of vegetarian options. Many Thai Buddhist monks are lacto-vegetarian so a lot of their cuisine is built around those dietary needs.
Trader Joe’s is never one to let a trend slip away and they offer quite a wide variety of Thai inspired foods. I have reviewed several here Trader Joe’s Vegan Green Thai Curry, Trader Joe’s Thai Shrimp Fried Rice, are two of my favorites and now I have a third favorite food from Trader Joe’s that comes from Thailand!
What is Panang Curry?
You might know there are many different types of curry paste in Thailand. Panang curry is one of them. Panang is actually part of Malaysia but is right on the border of Thailand and is largely influenced by Thailand. It’s always been my favorite. It differs from red curry in that it includes mungbean in the paste. It’s also slightly sweeter and less spicy than red or yellow curry. If you’re new to curry or don’t like strong or spicy flavors, Panang curry is for you!
It should be noted that, despite being a red curry of Thai origin, Panang is a different dish than the one known as Thai red curry. The primary difference is that Panang is sweeter and creamier, while still containing a complex spice layer and a slight underlying tanginess. One of the reasons for this is that the main ingredient — and the main liquid — in Panang is coconut milk. This gives it a thick texture and rich flavor. *Both Red and Panang Curry use Coconut Milk. I believe Coconut Cream and crushed/ground peanuts are often used for Panang Curry.
Along with the creaminess of the coconut milk, Panang includes chili pepper, peanuts, lemongrass, garlic, Thai lime zest, shallot, cumin, fish sauce, and coriander, among other spices.
Alternatively, we carry all the ingredients to make your own Panang in the produce, meat, canned goods, and spice sections as well as already Panang curry pastes in our grocery department.
But Trader Joe’s does all of this for you in a convenient frozen package and it’s vegan to boot.
This is a frozen meal. It comes in two chambers in the package. You simply put a slit in the film on both sides and microwave it for about five minutes. Then the tricky part is to dump all of it in a bowl without spilling it all over the place. My container was cracked on one corner and it started leaking while it cooked but not too badly. Just scoop out the rice first then the curry and put it in a bowl.
There is quite a variety of vegetables in this dish. Baby Corn, Spinach, Green Beans, Kale, Zucchini, Asparagus, Onions, Snow Peas, and Thai Chilis. Now being able to tell what you have swimming in the curry sauce is a different matter. But it’s all good. The smell is incredible with an authentic Thai curry smell. The flavors meld together in a cohesive way. It’s not too spicy. I would say it’s medium heat and I am pretty sensitive to spicy food these days. If you want heat, you are going to have to add some of your own.
All in all, it was a decent meal with almost 500 calories and it filled me up. Easy to make and very tasty. I am going to give this a full 8 Bells!
THAI JASMINE RICE, BROWN JASMINE RICE,
PANANG SAUCE (COCONUT MILK, LEMONGRASS, PALM SUGAR,
GALANGAL (THAI GINGER), KAFFIR LIME LEAF, SHALLOTS,
GARLIC, THAI CHILI, BASIL, SOY OIL, CORIANDER, SEA SALT),
VEGETABLE BLEND (BABY CORN, SPINACH, GREEN BEANS,
KALE, ZUCCHINI, ASPARAGUS, ONION, SNOW PEAS, THAI CHILI)
CONTAINS COCONUT, SOY.
MICROWAVE (1200 WATT): Microwave cook times may vary
depending on oven wattage. Cut a one-inch slit over the rice and
over the sauce. Heat for 3 minutes on high; remove and pull back
the film, stir sauce, and fluff rice. Re-cover and continue to heat
for an additional one minute. Place rice in a dish and spoon
sauce over it. Let stand for one minute before serving.
CONVENTIONAL OVEN: Preheat oven to 350’F. Remove the film
and cover loosely with foil. Place on center rack of oven and
heat for 45 minutes; remove from oven, stir sauce, and fluff
rice. Re-cover the rice portion, return to oven, and heat for 5
minutes longer or until the sauce is heated through and the rice is
hot. Place rice in a dish and spoon sauce over it. Let stand for
one minute before serving.