This recipe is a follow up from one of my earlier recipe for the Thai Fish Cake. I am very delighted that some of our readers have requested that I share the Thai Red Curry Paste recipe. I know, I know… It is hard work but I believe it is worth the effort. The best part is, you can always make more and freeze them for future use!
Curry paste is one of the most essential components in Thai cuisine. They are used as a base to make dishes like fish cake, soup, curries and many more. You can easily get a bottle of Thai red curry paste in most of the supermarkets if you are not bothered by the difference in taste. I love homemade stuff as I can control the quantity and quality of the ingredients. Seriously, none of the store bought curry pastes can compare to the flavourful homemade one which is made out of fresh ingredients.
I have made this red curry paste many times and I still love making them as they taste so good!!
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Yields about 210g to 230g of curry paste
Mortar and Pestle/Blender/Food Processor
12 dried red chillies
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves
2 stalks lemongrass
2 inches galangal
2 coriander/cilantro roots
2 cardamom pods
½ teaspoon peppercorns
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon Thai shrimp paste
- Soak chillies in water till soft.
- Drain them and cut them into about 1 cm pieces and set aside.
- Peel garlic and shallots and slice them into small pieces and set aside.
- Remove the outer layer of the lemongrass and trim the top and the bottom of lemongrass
- Slice the lemongrass into small pieces and set aside.
- Peel the outer skin of the galangal, slice it into smaller pieces and set aside.
- Wash the coriander roots well then chop finely and set aside.
- Grind the peppercorns and the 2 cardamom pods into powder and set it aside with the coriander and cumin.
- Delicately slice off the green skin of the kaffir lime only and cut off any of the white pith.
Grinding curry paste with mortar and pestle:
A word of caution only:
When using the mortar and pestle to ground the ingredients, ensure that you do not pound them straight down into the center of the mortar; otherwise the ingredients might bounce back to you. Pound the ingredients into the side, near the deepest spot at an angle.
- Add dried cut chilies and slightly more than ½ teaspoon salt.
- Pound until the chillies are nicely broken (including the seeds if you are adding them) and it looks almost like tomato paste.
- Add the lemongrass and galangal into the mortar.
- Pound them until they are beyond recognition.
- Add the garlic, kaffir lime zest and cilantro roots.
- Again pound until they are beyond recognition.
- Add shrimp paste and mix well.
- Add additional salt if it is not salty enough.
Alternatively if you do not have a mortar and pestle or are hard press for time, you can use a blender /food processor. I would stress that you use as little water as possible when blending so that the taste of the curry paste is sustained. However, this method will never beat the mortar and pestle technique.
- Combine all the ingredients into a blender and add some water and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- I kept the seeds of the chillies as we prefer the spiciness. If you prefer a less spicy paste then you can remove some of the seeds or all the seeds depending on what level of spiciness you love.
- When preparing the coriander roots, use the root and about 1 inch of the stem portion attached to each root. In countries where the roots are often not available; substitute stems for roots.
- Kaffir lime is usually not easy to find and I bought them from the Thai supermarket. Kaffir lime zest has a distinct scent and flavor and regular western limes are an ineffective substitute. As a cheat, when I really have difficulties finding kaffir lime, I will still substitute kaffir lime zest with a normal lime zest.
- Salt is added to act as a preservative.
- Remember that you already have salt in your paste so when you use it ensure that you do not add too much salt in your dish.
- Freeze them into small portions for later use. They can be kept for up to a year.
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