Mixtures, Blends, Sauces and Condiments

Red Thai Curry Paste

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I've had a few requests for this recipe, an unfortunately I don't have photos of the whole process, but next time we make this I'll take pictures and add them to this post.

Last year Bill made a big batch of this when he picked peppers from our garden.  Then he froze it in an ice cube tray, popped the cubes out and stored them in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Same thing with the Green Thai Curry Paste.  Both are tremendously flavorful, as is true of Thai cooking in general.  Lots of fresh, intense ingredients.

Anyway, both recipes are from Keo's Thai Cuisine, one of our favorite Thai cookbooks. 

Anyway, most recently Bill made some for a meal of spicy fish tacos on a recent Brew Day.  (He brews beer.  All-grain batches.  BIG batches.)  To serve with the fish, he warmed the paste in a wok with some extra ginger and garlic and added part of a can of coconut milk to give it a creamy texture.  It's EXCELLENT stuff, if you like your heat to have flavor.  That's the thing, in my opinion.  If it's just hot, well, it's boring.  But if it's hot and has tons of flavor, then I'll eat it by the bowlful.  Really.  It's that yummy.  Burns your mouth raw, but in a pleasant way, if you know what I mean.

So, for those of you who have asked about it, here's the basic recipe:

Red Curry Paste

15-20 red chili peppers, seeded
2 stalks fresh lemon grass, coarsely chopped
5 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
1 T coarsely chopped kha (a type of ginger – you can use regular
ginger)3 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Chinese parsley roots, chopped (cilantro roots, if you
can get them. Or use the stalks)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds
1/2-1 T fish sauce or 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp shrimp paste (optional)
2 T oil

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process
until smooth. If a mortar and pestle is used, then add oil
after all other ingredients are ground. Refrigerate in a glass
container. Paste keeps well for several months.

And, a few notes from me…

*  We actually didn't have any more red chili peppers left from last summer, so Bill rehydrated about 10 dried red thai chiles in water, and he may have used some green fresh ones and also part of a red bell pepper just to add more color.  It was plenty potent.

*  You can freeze lemon grass, too, which is what we do – we'll buy a bunch of it and freeze it so we always have it available.  If you've never seen lemon grass, you can go here for a good illustration and description of the plant and its uses.  Also, in the upper right corner of the page, there's a picture of kaffir lime leaves.  We also buy these to freeze.  They keep forever (it seems) and impart a distinct citrus+something else flavor and aroma to Thai dishes.

*  Fish sauce is another staple of Thai cooking.  To learn how it's made, you can go here.  Basically, it's a liquid salt element, but the flavor is more than just salty.  And don't be put off by the rather powerful aroma.  Once it's in the food, sauce, paste, whatever, it melds with the other elements of the dish and becomes less…um…pungent.

*  Shrimp paste.  Yep, paste made from tiny, dried, fermented shrimp.  A little goes a very long way.  Again, it adds saltiness to whatever you're making, but like the fish sauce, it is not simply a salt substitute.  Once again, it adds depth of flavor to the mix.  And it's also fun to dare nephews to taste a teaspoonful of it blind and watch the expression on their face change.  At least that's what Bill likes to do.  He's a fun uncle.

Anyway, there you are. 

If you want to make fish tacos and have this as part of the experience, remember to combine it with some coconut milk to make it more of a sauce, rather than a paste.  We used cod, but use whatever kind of fish (shrimp is great, too) you want to.  We also included, as other possible additions to the tacos, the following:  guacamole (it's a nice soothing balance to the heat from the curry paste), cole slaw (goes nicely with the fish), rice (to absorb some of the liquid) and, for those that wanted it, some shredded cheese. 

There's nothing more fun than sitting around the table with a bunch of guys, watching their eyes water and noses run (okay, I try not to watch that part) as they bravely pile more red curry paste/sauce on their fish.  I really don't know why it didn't have the same effect on me.  But it didn't.  And I ate plenty.  Just lucky, I guess. 

But anyway, go make up a batch of this and try it out.  It's DELICIOUS. 

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