Cambodian Yellow Curry Paste


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    ¼ cup

Appears in

From Scratch: 10 Meals, 175 Recipes, and Dozens of Techniques You Will Use Over and Over

From Scratch

By Michael Ruhlman

Published 2019

  • About


  • 4 to 5 dried dried red chiles
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white parts only (root end, dry green tops, and any bruised exterior leaves discarded), minced
  • 1 (1-inch/2.5-centimeter) piece galangal, thinly sliced
  • 1 (2-inch/5-centimeter) piece turmeric root, thinly sliced
  • 5 Thai lime leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • tablespoons coarsely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • teaspoons dried shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste


Put the chiles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let soak for 1 hour. Drain. Remove and discard the stems and seeds.

In a dry, hot skillet, toast the coriander and cumin seeds until aromatic and beginning to change color. Transfer to a mortar and grind with the pestle. Be sure to cup your hand over the mortar so the seeds don’t fly out.

In small batches, add the lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, lime leaves, garlic, shallot, and cilantro to the mortar and use the pestle to pound and grind the mixture until the paste is fairly smooth. You can also use a blender to complete this task, but I recommend that you finish by placing the mixture in a mortar and pounding it into a paste texture.

Mix in the shrimp paste. Season with salt as desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.