Today, we are blogging about green Thai curry paste. Tomorrow, we will show you a wonderful curry to go with it. Today, however, it’s all about the paste. Devilishly pretty isn’t it?
If you have been reading our blog for any length of time you realize we like spicy foods. We are pretty eclectic in our tastes but we do like it spicy, especially Baby Lady who likes almost everything “kicked up a notch.” So, it should be no surprise that we like Thai food. In fact, we like Thai food a lot, especially Thai curries. Now, Thai curries are much more than bringing on the heat. Indeed, although Thai cuisine places a lot of emphasis on spiciness, it also emphasizes strong aromatics and balancing the basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter to create a harmonious finish. This harmony encompasses every aspect of the dish including taste and texture. It’s what makes Thai curry so wonderful.
Now, most people are familiar with red and green Thai curries but there is a third type of Thai curry, yellow Thai curry. Each one has different flavor profiles. Red Thai curry paste is made with red chiles, both fresh and dried, and is spicy, spicy hot. Green Thai curry paste is made with green chiles with the addition of cilantro and Kaffir lime leaves. Yellow Thai curry paste is made with yellow chiles with the addition of tumeric. It is a much milder than either the red or the green Thai curry paste. Yellow curry also does not incorporate fish sauce or shrimp paste so it is truly vegetarian, as opposed to red and green Thai curry.
Now, We have previously blogged about red Thai curry paste. So today, we are going to blog about green Thai curry paste. There are some people who believe that green Thai curry is one of Thailand’s most famous contributions to world cooking. Green Thai curry paste forms the base of a wide variety of vegetable and meat dishes and is highly versatile. You can use it in stir fries, dry curries and soups. As with red Thai curry paste, you can find green Thai curry paste at almost any market. If you’re in a pinch or don’t want to bother with making your own there are some decent commercial green Thai curry pastes available commercially. If you want to take a little more time, however, you can make your own designed according to your own tastes and level of spiciness. Not surprisingly, the additional time spent preparing your own green curry paste will provide you an incredibly fresh, vibrantly flavorful green curry paste with authentic flavors and aromas that you simply won’t find in commercially prepared green Thai curries. It also stores well in your freezer so there really is no reason not to make you own. So give this recipe a try and adjust it to your own tastes. This is what we did.
- 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass thinly sliced
- fresh ginger, 2 inches long, peeled and sliced*
- 1 bunch cilantro, roots or stems only, chopped
- 2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
- 10 fresh kaffir lime leaves, center vein removed
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 10+ fresh Thai green chiles, seeded and stemmed**
- 1 Tbsp shrimp paste
- 1 Tbsp coriander seed, toasted in a dry frying pan and ground
- 1 tsp white peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 1/2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
You can make this with a mortar and pestle slowly and painstakingly pounding all of the ingredients into a paste. I have done this previously and it is a lot of work. No longer trying to be muscular, I am very comfortably lazy in my later years and use a food processor, whiz, whiz. Much quicker and easier. If you want to do this in a mortar and pestle, starting with the garlic, add each ingredient to the mortar one at a time, pound each ingredient as it is added until the final textured paste is formed. This takes a while so you might as well have a Snickers before you start.
First things first, add coriander, cumin and coriander seeds to a sauté pan.
Place over medium heat and toast until aromatic.
Pour toasted spices into a spice mill/blender.
Grind/blend to a powder.
Add garlic to a food processor bowl.
Now, add ginger
Kaffir lime leaves
toasted, ground spices
and shrimp paste.
Now, process until you get a nice paste with a fairly smooth texture.
Viola!! Green Thai curry paste. Simple, simple simple.
Now that you have the green Thai curry paste you can make remarkable things, like Shrimp & Yellow Squash in a Coconut Green Thai Curry – sweet, tart & savory with a little kick on the back end, but that post is for another day.
NOTES: Although best used immediately, it will keep in the fridge for about a week or freeze for up to 1 year.
* Technically, you should use galangal (white ginger). Sadly, the galangal available in the US is “lengkuas,” Indonesian galangal. It has a multilayered, sharp flavor with a pine like aroma. I’m not overly fond of it. I would like to find “krachaai,” the galangal typically used in Thailand that has a flavor similar to ginger with pepper notes. As such, I use ginger as opposed to lengkaus as I prefer the flavor.
** You can use less chiles or more chiles depending upon your own personal preference. This packs some heat but Baby Lady thought it could use a little more. You be your own judge.