I first discovered Pra Ram, a Thai Peanut Curry, when I was living in Orlando, Florida. This sauce is so good, I crave it. My love affair with Thai Peanut Curry has been long-standing, that is until I moved to South Carolina. My local Thai restaurant does not prepare this dish – not even as a special order! This made me very sad. As if it’s not hard enough to move to another state leaving my friends and family behind, but my Pra Ram, too? UGH! Torture.
Naturally, my only recourse was to make this delicious, craveable sauce myself at home. It starts with a Thai red curry paste which is readily found in the grocery store on the Asian food aisle. Generally, I make all my seasonings and sauces myself but in this instance, the jarred red curry paste is what I reach for first. The list of ingredients that go into it is long, costly, and labor intensive. The resulting sauce is still nothing short of amazing!
Do you remember last week when we made Salisbury Steak Meatballs that I said meatballs were a gateway food in our house? It’s true. My daughter sat and happily ate her Thai Peanut Curry (meatballs) with no complaints what-so-ever. This dish is only mildly spiced despite the red curry paste contained both in the meatballs and the sauce. If you like a spicier curry, fry the Thai red curry paste together with some red chili flakes and sesame oil in the skillet before adding the coconut milk and the other ingredients. This brings out the spicy flavor. Add more red chili flakes until you hit your desired spice level. This can still be adjusted later on.
For the meatballs I use a recipe very similar to my Potstickers which are full of flavor; once they take a swim in that peanut curry sauce, they are downright amazing. Once I get all the meatballs rolled and into the skillet to brown, I start on the sauce. Easy peasy.
Once the sauce is simmering, I transfer the meatballs into the sauce to finish cooking. Serve with a side of rice and steamed vegetables. If the sauce gets too thick after simmering, add a bit of water to thin it out to your desired consistency. If it’s too thin, allow for a little more simmering time. Swapping out the meatballs for another protein like sliced chicken or jumbo shrimp and adding different vegetables creates a never-ending variety of dishes with one delicious sauce.
- For Meatballs:
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil [See Note 1]
- 1 lb ground chicken [See Note 2]
- ½ cup (heaping) fresh spinach, wilted and chopped
- 4 green onions (scallions), chopped
- 9 springs of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce [See Note 3]
- 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs [See Note 4]
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For the sauce:
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- pinch of red chili flakes, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce [See Note 3]
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup water, if needed to thin the sauce
- Optional garnishes:
- dry roasted peanuts, chopped
- green onion (scallion), sliced
- chopped cilantro
- Optional side dishes:
- steamed vegetables
- If you are serving with rice, start it now according to the package instructions. It should be ready when dinner is ready.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp sesame oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining meatball ingredients. Mix together and form into 1-inch meatballs, about the size of a gold ball. Place meatballs in hot pan and sear on all sides.
- While the meatballs are cooking, start on the Thai peanut curry sauce.
- Heat a large skillet or medium sauce pan, over medium heat. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil and add the red curry paste and a pinch of red chili flakes. Cook stirring frequently for about two minutes. Taste and add more chili flakes if you prefer a spicier sauce. Add the coconut milk and gently simmer. When the coconut milk is hot, add the peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and garlic. Whisk until combined. Add the meatballs into the curry sauce and continue to simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened and the meatballs are cook through.
- Serve over rice with fresh steamed vegetables. Garnish with crushed peanuts, chopped scallions and/or chopped cilantro.
2. I grind my own chicken using fresh chicken thighs. If you do not have a grinder this is also easily done in a food processor. The store was out of ground chicken.
3). Fish sauce is found at the grocery store on the Asian food aisle. It is really worth trying. It does not overpower the food to taste like fish but adds so much flavor and a certain saltiness. If you opt to omit the fish sauce, replace it with either soy sauce or hoisin sauce for added flavor.
4). Panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese-style breadcrumb. They add a nice texture. If you do not have Panko, substitute regular dry breadcrumbs.
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