Red Thai Curry Paste

© 2012

Nowadays Red Thai Curry Paste is readily available in grocery stores everywhere. So why in the world would anyone want to make their own red curry paste? Well, first, I like to play with food and try different things. As a result, I make my own chicken stocks, beef stocks, vegetable stocks, seasoning blends, etc. Second, and perhaps more importantly, once you make your own Red Thai Curry Paste you will never use store bought paste again, unless that is you run out of your homemade paste and are crunched for time. Third, making your own Thai Red Curry Paste is quick, simple and inexpensive.

Homemade Red Thai Curry Paste makes for more flavorful, nuanced curries, without commercially processed additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers! You can use Red Thai Curry Paste for various Thai curries, including chicken, seafood, beef, duck, and vegetarian curries. You can also ad a teaspoon or two to flavor soups, noodles, or a myriad of other dishes.  You will be surprised by the versatility and flavor of this easy homemade Red Thai Curry Paste.  Give it a try. It’s what I use in the Japanese Eggplant & Haricot Verts with Red Thai Curry Paste.


  • 20 2- to 3-inch-long dried hot red chiles, halved and seeds discarded
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 fresh lemongrass stalks
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp fresh or thawed frozen galangal, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro roots or stems, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup garlic, chopped
  • 20 fresh bird’s-eye chiles chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ga-pi (Thai shrimp paste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Cut dried chiles into 1/4-inch pieces with kitchen shears and soak in warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain well in a sieve.

While chiles soak, toast coriander in a dry small heavy skillet over moderate heat, shaking skillet, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes, then cool. Thinly slice lower 6 inches of lemongrass stalks and finely chop.

Finely grind coriander and peppercorns with mortar and pestle (or in mini food processor), about 2 minutes, then toss together with lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, cilantro, shallot, garlic, fresh chiles, and soaked dried chiles in a bowl. Pound mixture in 3 batches with mortar and pestle until a fairly smooth paste is formed, 8 to 10 minutes per batch, transferring to cleaned bowl. (If using food processor, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons water per batch.) Return all of curry paste to mortar, then add shrimp paste and salt and pound (or pulse) until combined well, about 1 minute.

8 thoughts on “Red Thai Curry Paste”

    1. Well, Thai food is notoriously spicy but you only use a small amount of this curry in a dish because it is so flavorful and spicy. You really should try this and compare it to store bought. The difference is night and day.

  1. I definitely have to try this, if I can find all of the ingredients. I always prefer homemade over storebought. Knowing your taste, I’ll probably only use 1/2 of the suggested amount of chiles 😉

Food for thoughts

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