Thai red curry paste

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Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

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Various ready-made red Thai curry pastes are on the scene now (the Thai Nam Jai brand is particularly good), but for true die-hard curry-ites, heres how to make your own.


De-seed 6 long red dried chillies and 4 small red birdseye chillies, then roughly chop. Chop up 4 shallots, 8 cloves garlic, and 2 peeled sticks of lemon grass, 5 cm root ginger and the same of galangal (or extra root ginger), then pound these with the chillies to a paste. If using a mortar and pestle, start by pounding the firmer things, then work in the more delicate toward the end and, if things start to look too full, do in batches. Alternatively pulverise the lot in the processor. Next, pound 6 finely chopped lime leaves - or the finely grated zest of 1/2 a lime, 3 tsp shrimp paste (or add 2 tbsp fish sauce when adding the oil at the end) and 1 tsp coriander seeds - or a few chopped fresh coriander roots, if your bunch has them. Then bind the lot together with a tablespoon of oil. It should have texture and some fibre about it. Leftover paste will keep for a good week or so refrigerated.