I have really been enjoying Thai curries ever since I discovered them about a year ago. At first I started with simple curries using store bought curry paste. I have been slowly adding more authentic ingredients as I have been finding sources for them. A while ago I made my first curry paste, a penang curry. Though I had been planning to make the classic red curry paste I was distracted by the peanuts in penang curry and I made that instead. I had been craving some curry lately and now was the time to try making the red curry paste. One of the things that I like about Thai curry pastes is that they contain a lot of fresh ingredients. You should be able to find all of the ingredients at your local Asian grocery store. Thai curry pastes are pretty easy to make; You just mash everything in a mortar and pestle or you could make it even easier and use a food processor. This time I soaked the dried red chili peppers in some lime juice to soften them up a bit so that they could be ground into smaller pieces more easier. The curry paste keeps well in the freezer for a couple of months so you can freeze the extra paste in single serving amounts (one or two tablespoons) for easy use later on.
Thai curries are pretty simple as well; You just need some curry paste, coconut milk, meat and/or vegetables, fish sauce, palm sugar and possibly some fresh herbs and chilies. To bring out the full flavour of the curry paste you are going to want to saute it a bit before adding the other ingredients. You can saute it in some oil or you could use the thicker part of the coconut milk from the top of the can. Saute it until it is nice and fragrant, about a minute or two, before adding the rest of the coconut milk and the other ingredients.
Red Curry Paste
adapted from The Big Book of Thai Curries by Vatcharin Bhumichitr
10 dried red chilies (toasted)
1 kaffir lime (or lime, juice and zest)
4 tablespoons shallots (chopped)
3 tablespoons garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons galangal (or ginger, chopped)
2 tablespoons lemongrass (peeled, lower 2 inches)
1 tablespoon cilantro root
1 teaspoon white peppercorns (toasted and ground)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted and ground)
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
1. Soak the dried red chilies in the lime juice for 30 minutes.
2. Mash everything with a mortar and pestle or puree everything in a food processor.
Penang Curry Paste
Thai Green Curry Paste
Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Soup