These pungent, aromatic, and hot seasoning pastes are basic to the cooking of Thailand. Red curry paste, made with dried red chiles, seasons soups and stir-fries. For the hotter green curry paste, fresh green chiles are substituted. Masaman curry paste, brought to Thailand by Muslim immigrants from India, is used in masaman curry soup. Vegetarian yellow curry paste is used to make yellow curry soup. The pastes can be purchased in
small cans in Thai and Asian grocery stores.
1Trim and seed 6 each whole dried red New Mexico chiles and whole dried small hot red chiles. Soak in water to cover until soft and pliable, about 30 minutes.
2In a dry skillet, toast 1 tablespoon coriander seed, then grind and reserve. Wrap 1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste in aluminum foil and heat the packet in the same skillet, flipping frequently, until aromatic, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and reserve.
3Still using the same skillet, dry-roast 1 cup sliced pink Asian shallots and 1/2 cup sliced garlic until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes, and reserve.
4Mince together 2 teaspoons wild lime or lime peel, the sliced heart of 2 large stalks lemongrass, 6 tablespoons finely chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro root (optional), and one slice peeled fresh turmeric or 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.
5Drain the chiles, reserving the liquid. Purée the chiles to a chunky paste in a food processor, then scrape in the shrimp paste from the foil and add the ground coriander, roasted shallots, and garlic, and the lime peel mixture, adding some of the reserved chile soaking liquid as needed, puréeing until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.