This Thai red curry paste recipe is easy to make from scratch. Homemade curry paste is unbeatable for tastier curries and they’re much healthier too. Red curry paste makes for excellent Thai curry, including curry chicken and seafood curries, beef curry, vegetarian curries, and fish curry.
Many of the ingredients are adjustable and have options for swaps. It’s easy to adjust the spiciness of this curry paste by reducing or adding more dried chilli. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, use soy sauce instead of fish sauce and golden mountain sauce in place of the shrimp paste.
The star ingredient in Thai Red Curry is dried red chillies. Chop before hydrating in boiled water to shake the seeds loose (seeds = spiciness) and also, they hydrate better = easier to whizz into a smooth paste.
Using fresh red chillies won’t produce the same end result, I tried. Dried chillies have an earthy flavour, they are not crazy spicy and it’s a key flavour base for red curry. To capture the aroma of fresh I add 1 small red bell pepper and extra dried birds eye chillies. This helps with the colour too. However the bell pepper is optional.
No matter how many dried chillies I add the colour is never as bright as I would prefer so I add chilli powder and extra kashmiri chilli powder too.
Another ingredient in Thai Red Curry Paste that is a bit unique is galangal. It looks like ginger, but tastes more citrusy and is harder to cut. If you can’t find it, substitute with ginger and lime zest.
Because galangal is so tough, it can be one of the offenders of grainy curry sauce because consumer grade blenders and food processors can’t blitz it finely enough if you just throw chunks in. In my experience for a smoother paste you can grate the galangal. This step is truly worth taking if you want to ensure your curry is smooth, especially if you have an ordinary blender. I tend to use my Magic Bullett which blends fine.
The other key ingredient in Thai Red Curry Paste is Shrimp Paste.
I don’t use the fermented shrimp in block rather the shrimp paste in oil which adds to the colour!
Don’t rush the cooking process though, let the sauce fry just for few minutes. When you add the coconut milk let it simmer slowly and gently. Wait for the oils to be released and surface. You will capture the best from your paste that way.
Plonk it all into the blender, and blitz away until smooth – this can take a good 30 seconds or even up to 1 minute, depending on how powerful your blender is.
Please make this with all the ingredients as they all play an essential part in giving you the authentic taste and flavour otherwise you will not enjoy what I know it to be!
Thai Red paste
6 garlic cloves
1 med red onion
1 thumb size galangal, grated
15 long dried chilli
in absence hot red chillies
10 birds eye chillies
3 lemongrass reedy outer layer removed
Handful coriander stem or 3 roots
10 kafir lime leaves 1 small red bell pepper
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp paprika/kashmiri chilli powder
2 tbsp shrimp paste
1 tsp sugar
1 Lemon and its juice to add at end
2 tsp Salt ¼ cup reserved chilli soaking water
1/2 tsp pepper
This quantity will yield enough curry paste for 2 curries to serve 4
Taste dried chillies for spiciness.
Place the chopped chillies in a large bowl and pour over about 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Leave to soak for a good 30 minutes or so.
Remove chillis and reserve water.
Put chillis in a blender or powerful food processor.
Add remaining curry paste ingredients into the blender along with 1/4 cup of the chillies soaking water.
Blitz on high until smooth – test by rubbing between your fingers. It takes around 40 seconds in my Magic Bullet which is a powerful blender. It might take up to 1 minute. Use a touch more water as required to aide with blending.
Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. The paste can also be frozen for up to six months
Use canned coconut milk, not the kind you find in the refrigerated section meant for cereal and coffee.
If you prefer a curry sauce rather than a paste, add up to 1 can coconut milk and process in the food processor.
To use immediately, fry the paste in a little oil to release the fragrance, about 1 minute. Add your choice of meat, tofu, wheat gluten, and/or vegetables.
Add enough coconut milk to reach the desired consistency. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. Serve with steamed rice.
When adding ingredients, these vegetables work well with red curry: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, snow peas, cauliflower, and spinach.
When roasting a chicken or chicken pieces, rub some red curry paste under the skin.
Mix some red curry paste with mayonnaise for a tasty spread for burgers, sandwiches, or fish tacos.
Add some curry paste to your favorite meatloaf mixture or to make savoury rice!
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