Here’s my homemade red curry paste. A paste is the base of many a delicious curry dish, such as those made with scrumptious coconut sauces and a variety of meats or fish. I like to make a big patch of curry paste, as most dinner recipes call for only a few tablespoons, and keep the rest in the freezer.
2 tsp dry-roasted coriander
2 tsp dry-roasted cumin
1 ½ tsp white pepper corn
1 medium red onion
4-6 garlic cloves
¼ cup dried large red chilis (about 8 of the 3-in. variety) – soaked, de-seeded and chopped
1 stalk lemongrass – sliced diagonally from bulb until no longer purple
grated zest of 2 kaffir limes
6 coriander roots – woody center removed and chopped finely
1 ½ tsp shrimp paste
(Yield: 1 ½ – 2 cups.)
To dry-roast the spices, simply dampen slightly, then place in hot wok and stir frequently (for a minute or two) until aromatic. When cool, grind in mortar and pestle with white pepper corns; set aside.
I use a food processor to chop onion and garlic cloves, and then I mix in hand-chopped chilis, lemongrass, galangal, coriander root and grated lime zest. Then, I try to pound in mortar and pestle (adding spices and shrimp paste at end) to make into a smooth paste. This is a challenge – as anyone knows who has used a mortar and pestle, you basically bang loudly until your arm aches – so I try to remember the words of my cooking instructor in Thailand: “Think of it as anger management.”
When finished, I take Ziploc baggies (about six of them) and fill each with 3 tbsp of paste… perfect for taking out of the freezer, anytime you want to make a red curry. Easy!