Thai curry pastes

Thai curry pastes, on the whole, are quite distinctive from other spice blends in that the best part of a Thai curry paste consists of fresh or ‘wet’ ingredients and relies less on the usual blend of spices you would expect in an Indian curry.

Hence, dare I say it, there are quite a few very good commercially available pastes, but with a food blender you can easily better them in your home.  Nothing beats making your own paste (my wife Liz actually enjoys this) and more importantly you can insure there are no nasty additives – I have a real thing about additives!

The method is simple and essentially the same for all of these pastes – the whole spices are first gently roasted before being added to the ‘wet’ ingredients and blended to a smooth paste. The paste itself will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks – or better freeze it!

 

Note – The colour of theses pastes is essentially down to the colour of the chillies you use (always use fresh), mild red or green chillies will add flavour and no heat, but these can be substituted for hotter varieties!

In addition, coriander root is not a garnish but an ingredient to impart a concentrated ‘coriander’ flavour difficult to come by, so if you don’t grow your own, strip off the leaves from the lower stalks (retain these for garnish!) and pound the stalks to a paste….

Finally – Thai curries depend far more on speed than the slow cook of Indian curries, therefore ensure all meat is thinly sliced to ensure a quick cook!

Green curry paste
This paste can be extremely hot and gets its heat from the number of hot green ‘Birds eye’ chillies used – adjust quantities depending on your preference (or just use large green mild chillies)

Whole spices -  to roast
2 tsp of coriander seeds
1 tsp of caraway seeds
1 tsp of black pepper corns (optional)

In a dry frying pan gently roast the spices until fragrant – a few minutes (2-3 mins. Max). Allow to cool.

‘Wet’ ingredients
6-8 chopped whole green chillies (or more! - including seeds) – ‘birds eye’ green chillies are the best, but also quite hot!
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
Thumb size piece of fresh galangal or ginger roughly chopped (wash don’t peel)
4 shallots or 1 large onion roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 tsp coriander root
1 stalk of chopped lemongrass (fresh, never dried)
1 tsp of shrimp paste
At least 6 dried kaffir lime leaves
Small handful of holy (or usual) basil (optional)
4 tsp of ground nut oil or vegetable oil

Grind the roasted whole spices and combine with the ‘wet’ ingredients in a food blender and blend into a smooth paste. 

Red curry paste
This paste is extremely hot and gets its heat from the number of chillies used (I would recommend Scots bonnets for the brave!) – adjust quantities depending on your preference – but red chillies do on the whole tend to be hotter than green ones!

Whole spices – to roast
3 tsp of coriander seeds
2 tsp of caraway seeds
1 tsp of black pepper corns (optional)

In a dry frying pan gently roast the spices until fragrant – a few minutes (2-3 mins. Max). Allow to cool.

‘Wet’ ingredients
4-8 chopped whole red chillies including seeds (if using some of the larger fleshy chillies like scots bonnets – go easy on these!).
1 large red mild chilli chopped (optional – for colour and slight flavour)
1 tsp salt
Thumb-sized piece of fresh galangal or ginger roughly chopped (wash - do not peel)
4 shallots or 1 large onion roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 tsp coriander root (see above)
1 stalk of chopped lemongrass (fresh, never dried)
1 tsp of shrimp paste
At least 8 dried kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp of paprika (optional, and again more for colour!)
4 tsp ground nut oil or vegetable oil

Combine the roasted whole spices with the ‘wet’ ingredients in a food blender and blend into a smooth paste.

Yellow curry paste (Chiang Mai)
This paste is quite a bit milder than the two above! Use milder large red chillies (8cm or so)

Whole spices – to roast
3 tsp of coriander seeds
3 tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 cm cassia or cinnamon bark (optional)

In a dry frying pan gently roast the spices until fragrant – a few minutes (2-3 mins. max). Allow to cool.

‘Wet’ ingredients
2-3 chopped whole large red chillies including seeds
1 tsp salt
Thumb size piece of fresh galangal or ginger roughly chopped
4 shallots or 1 large onion roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 tsp coriander root
1 stalk of chopped lemongrass (fresh, never dried)
1 tsp of shrimp paste
1tbs turmeric powder
4 tsp of ground nut oil or vegetable oil

Combine the roasted whole spices with the ‘wet’ ingredients (except the Turmeric) in a food blender and blend into a smooth paste. Add the turmeric and mix thoroughly.

 

Green beef curry
1  tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
500g of beef, sliced (or 4 large chicken breasts thinly sliced)
3 tbsp of green curry paste (see above!)
2-3 tbs of fish sauce
1-2 tbs finely chopped coriander
1 tbs of brown or palm sugar
100g bamboo shoots (optional)
125g creamed coconut dissolved in 550ml of boiling water
Handful of Thai ‘pea’ aubergine or ½ a normal Aubergine cut into bite size pieces
Garnish
Finely chopped coriander, Thai basil (optional)
1 thinly sliced red chilli

Method
Gently fry the paste in the oil with the beef for about 3-4 mins (until the beef is almost browned). Add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and mix in all the other ingredients (except the aubergine), simmer until the beef is tender (30-40 mins)
If using chicken add raw with the aubergine 10-15 mins before serving
Garnish with the coriander/basil and the red chilli
Cook’s notes
If it’s looking too dry slowly add ¼ cup of water, equally to increase the coconut flavour add thinly shaved slices of creamed coconut.

Red prawn curry
250g raw prawns shelled
1  tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
3  tbsp red curry paste (see above)
125g creamed coconut dissolved in 550ml of boiling water
4-6 chopped red chillies (with seeds)
1  tbps lemon juice (or to taste)
1  tbps fish sauce
¼ cup of water
Garnish coriander and red chilli sliced
Method
Gently fry the spiced in the oil for 3-4 mins then add the coconut milk, fish sauce and the chillies.
Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 30-40 mins
10 mins before serving add the raw prawns – when the prawns are pink they are cooked, add the lemon juice and serve garnished with chillies and coriander
Cook’s notes
If the sauce looks too dry slowly add the water.

Red Beef or chicken curry
500g thinly sliced beef or 4 chicken breasts thinly sliced
1  tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
3  tbsp red curry paste
125g creamed coconut dissolved in 550ml of boiling water
4-6 chopped red chillies (with seeds)
1  tbsp of crunchy peanut butter
1  tbsp soy sauce
1  tbps fish sauce
¼ - ½ cup of water
Garnish: coriander and red chilli, sliced
Method
Gently fry the beef and the paste in the oil for 3-4 mins or until the beef is browned, then add the other ingredients - bring to the boil, then simmer for 30-40 mins until the beef is tender.

For the chicken version, add 10 - 15 mins before serving the raw sliced chicken and ensure cooked. Garnish with chillies and coriander.

Cook’s notes
If at any point the sauce looks too dry slowly add the water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Send Us Your Comments

Please fill out the form below to let us know your comments.

Combine 25 with 50?
Shadow