When traveling in Thailand three years ago, I took a class at Chef Leez cooking school. Ever since, I have been pounding my own curry pastes. Made them in Iraq and Jordan, where I lived before, using more local ingredients. I believe in authenticity but more than this I think that you should be able to enjoy good food wherever you are instead of worrying that one ingredient is missing. Even in Thailand, you will find different variations of each recipe. Any curry paste made at home will taste dozen times better than the one bought in the store.
I have recently adapted the recipe provided by Mark Wiens, my hero when it comes to discovering Thai cuisine, by doubling the quantities of some fragrant Thai spices. I cannot help it. I like my curry to have a punch.
Traditionally, Thai curry pastes are prepared using mortar and pestle. It is extremely streneous work but so worthwhile. If you are not up for such challenges, just blend everything until smooth. You can easily store this paste for a while.
Red Curry Paste (Prik Gaeng Ped)
Cooking time:20-30 minutes
Serves: 12 tbsp of curry paste
- 8 dry red spur chiles
- 3 tsp white pepper corns
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander corns
- 10 garlic cloves
- 2 tbs fresh coriander roots with stalks, chopped
- 2 tbs sliced lemongrass, chopped
- 7 shallots, cut in half
- 2 tbs sliced galangal
- 1/2 the peel of 1 kaffir lime
- 6 dried shrimp
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Dry-roast spices including coriander corns, pepper corns and cumin for about 30 seconds.
- Soak chillies in water for about 10 minutes until they become soft.
- Transfer roasted coriander corns, pepper and cumin into a mortar and pestle and grind them into powder. Set it aside and move to grinding wet ingredients.
- First, add chilli and salt into your mortar and pestle and keep grinding it until smooth. This way, the fragrant chilli oil will be released.
- Then add chopped garlic, shallots, coriander roots, galangal, kaffir lime peel, shrimp lemon grass and keep grinding until smooth. It is going to take a while…
- Once the paste is buttery and resembles a tomato paste, mix in dry spices.