You could of course purchase Thai red curry paste. If you make your own, however you will notice and incredible different.
Homemade Thai red curry paste will take your red curries to a whole new and exciting level.
I’ve tried making Thai red curries many times, both with homemade and shop bought paste and homemade always wins hands down.
This does take some work but you can cheat a bit…
The traditional way of making Thai red curry paste is to pound all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar.
Even in Thailand, few people do this anymore. It takes about an hour to get the curry paste pounded to perfection.
I usually do the pounding method, especially when I have some time on my hands. That said, a good alternative is to start pounding the paste for about ten minutes and then finish it off in a food processor.
This will get you almost as good of results without all the work. Even if you were to make the whole paste in a food processor you would end up with a superior paste to anything you can buy.
Are shop bought curry pastes good too?
Yes. Although not as flavourful and usually a bit more basic, you can get good results using them.
The thing is, most commercial brands taste more of salt and chillies than anything else. As you can see, there is a lot more to a good Thai red curry paste than salt and heat.
If using a commercial brand of curry paste in your Thai red curries, I recommend using less than in the recipes you find on my website.
You can always add more but you don’t want to overpower your curry with that spice and salt.
Do you really use this whole batch in a curry that serves four?
Yep! As you can see from the ingredients, it’s not all about the heat. Lemongrass, shallots, mild spur chillies, garlic, galangal… These all add to the flavour of the curry without making it spicy hot.
Are you ready to get started?
Of course you are. I hope that you try making at least one batch of this Thai red curry paste the traditional way. Just so you can see for yourself the difference a bit of extra work makes.
If you like this recipe, you might like to try some of these too…
- 1 generous tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 generous tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1½ tsp white pepper
- 12 cloves garlic – peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 medium shallots – finely chopped
- 1 thumb sized piece of galangal - thinly sliced
- 2 fresh red chillies - thinly sliced
- 1 stalk of lemongrass – tough outer part removed and thinly sliced
- 12 red dry chillies soaked in water for 30 minutes and then cut into small pieces
- 10 thick coriander stems – about 1 generous tablespoon
- Zest of ½ lime
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant and warm to the touch but not yet smoking. Transfer to a pestle and mortar to cool and then pound to a fine powder. Stir in the whit pepper. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- Now place the rest of the ingredients up to and including the lime zest and pound for 15 to 20 minutes into a buttery paste. You could use a blender but the flavour won't be as intense.
- When you have a good paste, add the shrimp paste and ground spices and pound for another five minutes or so. This paste can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and it also freezes well.