Red Curry Paste

Prik Gaeng Dang

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes:

    1½ cups

    , slightly more if blended

Appears in

Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore

Southeast Asian Flavors

By Robert Danhi

Published 2008

  • About

The most common curry paste in Thailand is so versatile that it flavors the best Thai fish cakes the revered Kao Soi curry noodles and hundreds of variations of curry meat, fish and vegetables. High quality store bought versions are available, but I like homemade, which finds its way into all sorts of unexpected places like a spoonful in a quick dip, dressing, or marinade. I suggest using a mortar when making this recipe, to create an authentic texture.


  • 1 cup (1 oz. / 28 g.) Dried red hot chilies, remove stems and seeds
  • 1 tsp. Thai shrimp paste (gkapi), toasted
  • 2 tsp. Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. White peppercorns
  • 4 Shallots, roughly chopped
  • 8 to 12 Thai bird, red chilies or other hot red chilies (the more you add the hotter the curry)
  • 10 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 6 stalks Lemongrass, trimmed and sliced very thin, about 1/16 inch (.1 cm.)
  • 2 Tbsp. Finely grated galangal
  • 2 tsp. Minced cilantro root or 2 Tbsp. of minced stems
  • 1 tsp. Grated kaffir lime zest or 2 tsp. shredded kaffir lime leaves


  1. Soak chilies in 2 cups room temperature water for 30 minutes; drain, reserving rehydration water. Squeeze out excess moisture from the chilies; set aside.
  2. Individually toast cumin (dark brown), coriander seeds (medium brown) and peppercorns (just until fragrant) in a dry sauté pan, cool. Pulverize spices together in spice grinder, blender or mortar.
  3. If using a mortar: Begin by pounding spices until fine. Add chilies and salt; pound until smooth without any large pieces of chilies. Add lemongrass, galangal, cilantro root, and kaffir lime zest; pound until lemongrass disintegrates. Add garlic, shallots, and fresh chilies; pound until deep red smooth curry paste is achieved. Pound in toasted shrimp paste.

    If using a blender or mini food processor: Grind spices in grinder or blender. Place following ingredients into the blender vessel this order: shallots, salt, fresh chilies, and garlic; Add ¼ cup chili rehydration water. Puree until smooth, scraping sides down often to stir in stray bits. BE PATIENT—resist adding more water than needed to make it puree faster. Once semi-smooth, add soaked dried chilies, lemongrass, galangal, spices, kaffir lime zest, and cilantro root. Grind until very smooth. Add shrimp paste, and mix in well.

  4. Transfer to container to store in refrigerator for up to two months.