Panaeng Curry with Pork and Kabocha Squash

panang curry recipe
Growing up, I hated all tubers: taro, cassava, potato, yam, etc. And since cooked hard squashes have similar texture to cooked tubers, I avoided them as well. Funny how your taste changes over time. I now love all kinds of tubers and root vegetables including all hard squashes. Kabocha or buttercup squash is my top favorite. This particular type of squash has lower moisture content which means its flesh is firmer. Besides, it is the only winter squash that doesn’t have that “squashy” smell, if you know what I mean.

This dish is one of the many dishes I was served quite often when I was growing up. I used to get yelled at for picking off the squash and eating only the meat. Even then, I knew it was the squash that made the dish more delicious; it imparts subtle natural sweetness to the curry and complements the pork very well.

panang curry recipe

Panaeng Curry with Pork and Kabocha Squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish, Entree, Curry
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 lb boneless pork ribmeat or loin, sliced
  • 1 13.5-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 kabocha or buttercup squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes, skin and all
  • 2 ounces Panaeng curry paste (I use Maesri, but any imported brand will do.)
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 5-6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, cut into very thing strips
  • Fish sauce
  • Palm sugar
  1. In a saucepan, set over medium-high heat, heat up the coconut “head” (the thick part that rises to the top of the can) along with the curry paste, stirring constantly.
  2. When the mixture starts bubbling up around the edges and the coconut cream starts to separate, stop stirring and let it boil gently.
  3. Turn the heat up a little and add the pork.
  4. Stir to make sure the pork is all coated with the curry sauce.
  5. Add half of the coconut “tail” (the remaining thin, watery part) and bring the whole thing to a boil.
  6. Turn the heat down and let the curry simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes for rib meat or 5 minutes if you use pork loin, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the squash and bring the curry back to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5-7 minutes or until the squash is soft but not mushy.
  8. Season with fish sauce and sugar to taste (personally, I don’t add sugar as I think the squash adds enough sweetness to the dish).
  9. Stir in the basil leaves and and kaffir lime leaves, and take the pot off the heat immediately. Serve warm with steamed Jasmine rice.

18 Responses to Panaeng Curry with Pork and Kabocha Squash

  1. Marilou Garon October 6, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Oh, this looks like a great idea for the squash I am currently collecting in my kitchen. Could I also ask for the Thai Pumpkin Custard recipe that was mentionned in the post, since I am cursed with the Sweet Tooth but do not like pumpkin pie… Thanks in advance!

  2. Anonymous August 11, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    I will try this, is it supposed to be dry as in photo, no sauce?

  3. Leela August 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Anonymous – Actually, no. It’s supposed quite “saucy.” It’s just that pieces of pork and tender chunks of squash covered in brown-orange sauce don’t make for a very appealing food photograph. This is a problem I face all the time when photographing Thai curries.

  4. foodiePrints October 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Hey Leela! Loving your blog as usual 🙂

    Thanks for this recipe. I finally have something to make with the squash on my counter 🙂

  5. Anonymous October 9, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    I had to add all of the coconut milk and even water as I didn’t have any sauce. Maybe I did something wrong? Were the lime leaves a garnish?

  6. Admin October 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Anon – Yeah, sometimes you’ve got to play by ear. The amounts of canned coconut milk fat vary greatly from brand to brand, and can to can. The fat that solidifies or concentrates at the top of the can can be anything from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. All of that evaporates during the initial stage when you fry it with the curry paste. So the more you scoop out in the beginning, the less liquid you have left.

    The size, width, and depth of the pan that we both use may be different, and all of those factor play a part in how much liquid evaporates during the cooking process.

    You did the right thing by adding more liquid as you thought appropriate.

    The kaffir lime leaves are supposed to be added to the curry at the last stage along with the basil leaves. I didn’t realize I left that out until you brought it up. It’s fixed now. Thank you.

  7. Anonymous November 5, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Delicious! It was a hit, served 4 (2 guys, 2 girls with plenty of rice) with a little left over. I added half of a red bell pepper sliced into strips, and a little garlic and onion. It tasted a lot like my favorite curry dish at my favorite thai restaurant!

  8. Pey-Lih September 25, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    Thank you for this recipe Leela! I have learned the difference between the squashes, and I have a kabocha squash ready.

  9. Maya May 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to know how to make this from scratch! thanks for the post.

  10. Allan Wilson May 19, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    This has become one of my favourite feeds. Pumpkin Panaeng curry. I actually skip the meat altogether now, remove the skin and stew the pumpkin to soft. Doesn’t look quite as beautiful but does taste good 😀

  11. Mike October 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    For the curry paste, is that 2 ounces by weight or by volume? Thanks in advance!

    • Leela October 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Mike – By weight.

      • Mike October 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

        Excellent, thanks!!


  1. the gf-gf · Curry Favor - November 6, 2012

    […] summer, I discovered the blog She Simmers, with authentic Thai recipes and made my own Panang curry with beef and kabocha squash. I was very impressed with myself (and this recipe – very easy and […]

  2. Chicken Panaeng Curry « The Furious Pear Pie - November 14, 2012

    […] inexplicably sprinkled with just lemongrass, which I eyed with mild suspicion.  Reading about the different versions of this dish on Leela’s blog confirmed my thoughts: however you vary the curry, you […]

  3. The Best Pumpkins to Use in Thai Cooking - October 17, 2015

    […] Cake Steamed Pumpkin Cakes in the Style of Thai Toddy Palm Cakes Stir-Fried Pumpkin with Eggs Panaeng Curry with Pork and Kabocha Squash Thai Spicy Mixed Vegetable Soup (Kaeng Liang) […]

  4. lemongrass & lime – UptownBoho - February 17, 2016

    […] left,  Thai Red Curry Shrimp Noodle Soup  2. Top right, Panang Curry with Pork & Squash  3. Bottom right, Thai Green Curry 4. Bottom Left, Yellow curry with chicken and […]

  5. 50 Low-Carb Soul-Warming Soups To Get You Through The Winter - February 22, 2016

    […] Recipe via […]