For me, this surreal year has been a lot about focussing on well being and discovering herbs and spices that have sustained us over the ages and can be easily constructed and de constructed at home. As I ferment and culture vegetables over the weekends in a form of mindful meditation and clarity, I also focus of making sauces, spice mixes and curry pastes that can sit in the fridge for a while and help in my weekly cooking for nourishing food.
Thai food and especially the curry paste has a special place in my heart ( and my palate:))
I have experimented with many many recipes and sharing the one that has worked well for me over the years.
I would normally use the dry chilies but my wonderful and kind neighbors gave me such beautiful fresh red chilies that I had to use them. In the end the spice levels were on the bit milder side for me but I adjusted when cooking. This is YOUR curry paste, adjust to the way you like it as your pound the ingredients together.
So todays post is about the art of making curry paste and pounding it away in a mortar and pestle. Ok so I lie just a bit, I did utilize some help from my grinder – I used the grinder first to break down the galangal, chilies, and the dry ingredients separately and then added them back to the mortar for pounding. It just helped accelerate the breakdown. Ofcourse you are welcome to use the mortar/pestle alone or use a food grinder.
Oh and yes, this recipe calls for shrimp paste so if you are vegan or vegetarian you want to substitute that with a Miso or Fermented Bean paste.
Red Thai Curry Paste
A homemade red thai curry paste with fresh ingredients
Ingredients• About 20 Fresh red chilies – chopped
• 4-5 dry thai chilies ( soaked in water)
• 3 fresh lemongrass stalks – chop the white soft parts ( discard a couple of outer leaves)
• 4 inches of fresh galangal – chopped
• 8-10 Kaffir lime leaves
• A bunch of cilantro stems
• 4-5 small shallots chopped
• 1 whole garlic pod, peeled ( about 8 garlic cloves)
• 4 teaspoons coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon whole black or white peppercorns
• 2 teaspoons shrimp paste ( optional for vegetarians but highly recommended otherwise – you can use fermented bean paste and miso instead)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Using your equipment of choice, start with grinding the coriander seeds and peppercorns coarsely and set aside
• At this point you can decide to use a mortar pestle or just go with a food processor.
• Start with pounding the red chilies ( this will take time)
• Add galangal and then lemon grass and continue the pounding
• Continue with the rest of the ingredients adding the salt and dry spices along the way.
• The paste will come together and it will be beautiful.
• Add the shrimp paste ( if using) at the end and mix it all together.
• Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
I used this for two Thai Panang Curries, one with Chicken and the other with Tofu and Eggplant. Will post the recipe soon but its really just the curry paste with some coconut milk and then add the protein and veggies at the end.
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