Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste
I’m a sucker for good Thai food. So many flavours this cuisine packs into each dish. And luckily it’s not as hard to make delicious Thai meals at home as it might seem at first. And what’s a better start than a proper curry paste?
I know, making a curry from scratch can seem daunting. So many ingredients with so many different names. But once you make your first homemade curry paste, I don’t think you will go back to the jar stuff. Which is by the way usually full of sugar, MSG, colourants, canola oil and other ingredients that are not good for our long term health.
Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste can serve as a base for many beautiful dishes and curries so fragrant that it will daze your senses.
What are the main ingredients of Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste?
You might not know all the ingredients that are usually used in red curry paste, but don’t worry, they are not that hard to find. Most of the big supermarkets now have an international corner with the basics for different world cuisines and there are always small independent stores, such as vegetable shops and Asian grocers, where you can find almost anything.
The basics for the Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste are dried red chillies, which are easily found in Asian markets as well as a usual supermarket. The chillies give the curry paste it’s red-ish colour as well as the spicy kick and earthy flavour. The chillies just need to be soaked in hot water prior making the paste to make them a little softer and easier to use. You can swap the dried chilli for fresh ones, but the flavour is actually very different in this case. Dried chillies are not as spicy, but pack more flavour. The colour of the final paste might not be as red as the stuff you can buy in a jar, but the taste will be perfect.
Next very important ingredient is fresh galangal. It might look like ginger and it does taste somehow similar, however, it’s not the same. Galangal is even more fragrant than ginger, being more spicy and not as sweet and it has sharp citrusy flavour. And it’s definitely more “woody” than ginger, which makes it a bit harder to cut and grate, but it will give the curry paste unmistakable flavour.
Another ingredient that is absolutely fundamental is lemongrass. You can find lemongrass in supermarkets in the herb section these days, but if not, Asian markets should definitely have some. This will give your curry its mesmerising citrusy flavour and smell.
I also use kaffir lime leaves in the Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste, because they have the most beautiful fragrance ever and are such essential part of the Asian cuisine. You can also find them in most supermarkets in the fresh herb section.
And last of the very basics is shrimp paste. Definitely not a usual ingredient in western cuisine, but it’s what makes the flavour in Asian dishes to go the extra mile. While shopping for shrimp paste, I definitely recommend reading the ingredients, as there are many many brands with some real nasties in the ingredients lists. Preferably your shrimp paste should only contain fermented shrimp and salt, or possibly few other ingredients such as oil and spices.
The rest of the ingredients are definitely easy to find, you will need some garlic, ground coriander and turmeric, fresh coriander stems, shallots, ginger and water (I actually saved the water which I soaked the chillies in, as it has the chilli flavour already).
How is Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste made?
All of the ingredients then need to be chopped or/and grated and simply blended in a blender or with a stick blender. You can definitely use mortar and pestle for the authentic experience, but if you’d like to save some time and your muscles, blender will work just fine 🙂
- 10 dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass (about ½ stalk)
- 1 tbsp grated galangal (ca 2 thumbs, peeled)
- 1 tbsp grated ginger (ca 2 thumbs, peeled)
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic (3 large cloves)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander stems
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp chopped shallots (2 small shallots)
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
- 1 heaped tsp shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp of water we used to soak the chilli
- Soak the dried chilli in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Then strain the chilli, but keep the water for a later use.
- Chop the chilli in smaller pieces.
- Chop the shallots, coriander, lemongrass and kaffir lime.
- Peel and grate the galangal and ginger.
- Peel and crush (or grate) the garlic.
- Place all the ingredients including 2 tablespoons of the water we soaked the chilli in into a blender (or a tall jar if you're using a stick blender) and blend until they create a smooth paste.
- Store in an air-tight glass jar in a fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Use in meals such as Red Curry, soups, meat/fish cakes etc.