Shop bought green curry paste is fine if you are in a hurry, or don’t have access to the raw ingredients locally. However, many commercial products contain added sugar, maize starch, and other undesirables in an attempt to make it appeal more to the British palate and the supermarket shelves. Oh, and the chilli content is way, way too high. I enjoy heat, don’t get me wrong, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of the aromatic qualities, and those are distinctly lacking when it comes out of a jar.
The first time I tasted proper curry paste it blew my mind. The aromatic hit was breathtaking – it took me right back to my childhood in the 70s and the first time I tasted a curry – which at that time was an infinitely more aromatic experience than what one generally gets from contemporary high street restaurants. In fact, proper thai curry paste is such an explosion of flavour that it’s hard to figure out how it will taste once it’s been diluted in a curry. The answer, though, is that it will taste exquisite!
Fortunately for me, my local friendly thai shop has the ingredients I need.
Thai red curry paste – Shop vs Home made
There really isn’t a comparison here. The shop bought pastes are fine if you are in a hurry, and don’t mind a few extra carbs, but it’s well worth making your own. The ingredients can take a bit of hunting for unless you live in a city, so it’s worth making a larger batch and then freezing it for later use.
This will make enough for 9 very healthy sized portions of curry (I use a handy 9 compartment food cube tray and freeze it for later use), each with a little over 2 carbs.
- 10 Large dried red chillies (the flesh should be reasonably spicey) but deseed at least half of them unless you like it super hot.
- 8 Shallots or half a large red onion, chopped
- 1 Thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
- 6 thumb length pieces of krachai (or gkrachai) – chopped (not crucial)
- 2 Thumb sized piece Galangal, peeled and grated (replace with ginger if unavailable)
- 10 Cloves of garlic, crushed (if the garlic is small, use more)
- 2 tsp Coriander seeds (pref raw, but ground is fine)
- 2 tsp Cumin seeds (pref raw but ground is fine)
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 6 Stalks Lemon grass, tender/white part chopped – see note below
- 2 Limes, finely grated zest and juice
- 12 Kaffir lime leaves, chopped (add 1 extra lime juice/zest if unavailable)
- 1.5 tbsp Shrimp paste
- 12 tbsp coconut milk
A note on lemongrass – it is tough and stringy by nature. The best part from a culinary point of view is the heart, the most yellow flesh. On a piece of lemongrass 10 inches long this usually means cutton off the bottom half inch or so of the base, and using the next 4 or 5 inches. I usually peal off at least one outer sheath/leaf.
If you feel energetic, pound this in a big mortar for a good 15 to 20 minutes, or stuff it all in a blender and blitz it to a fairly smooth paste. Some will say the paste should be completely smooth, but this would require hours with a pestle, and even after 3 or 4 minutes in my blender, it still comes out as pictured. You may need to add a little coconut milk for it to work in a blender. And don’t worry about the flavour when it’s uncooked – it’s going to smell outragous.
That’s it – although it’s best to use it straight away, unless you are cooking for a large gathering just freeze it – it keeps well for a few weeks, and even then will taste better than anything you got with a barcode on it.