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. 🙂
17 thoughts on “Green Thai Curry Paste”
Thai used galangal and cannot be substituted with fingeroots (kra chai). The kra chai is sometime used only in the curry that will be cooked with fish only (as to cover up the fish smell). You got this really close to the real Thai green curry paste here, good job. However the same as the way that you don’t like the galangal (Indonesian or Thai as long as it is galangal it’s fine), Thai like myself has a certain familiarity and expectation when it comes to curry that we eat through out our life so, we can’t eat curry made with the paste that use ginger instead of galangal (believe me I had tried that and sorry, I can’t do it.). Also I wouldn’t think that you got the right shrimp paste. It looks kinda runny and red! Come to my blog, I posted the picture of the shrimp paste there. You should roasted the shrimp paste before putting in to the curry paste. It made the flavor more complex.
Yellow curry paste is not a real vegan and also using shrimp paste. If you want to make your curry vegan, used Marmite or vegemite instead of shrimp paste. There are a few curry paste that was considered “yellow”, Karee, Sour yellow curry, hung le and massaman are all quite yellow in color. May be they use yellow chilies in sour yellw curry but that’s not common, most of the time they use red dried chilies and there is either turmeric, or curry powder that make the curry paste turned yellow.
Hi, Miranti. I knew you would catch me on the galangal. 🙂 It’s why I commented technically it should be galangal. The piney, mediciney flavor of the galangal can be a little off-putting to me which is why I used ginger. It may not be authentic but it tastes good. 😉 I will look for the other shrimp paste and try roasting it before adding it to the paste. Thanks for the comments. I always appreciate the knowledge and candor. 🙂
lol…don’t worry. You can use whatever you personally like. Thai curry is life you know, can be changed to your liking. Just don’t served to the Thai, then you are more than fine. In fact you can adjust all ingredients base on your preference. Don’t like galangal use less of it, substitute it. My friend like the kra chai and use it in chicken curry too. (Surprised all of us but its ok) you can buy the right shrimp paste from an online store like templeofthai.com or amazon. I have a hard time reading what’s kind of shrimp paste you are using so I can’t tell if it is really a shrimp paste or shrimp fat that we use as a spread. If it is the shrimp paste (meaning already fermented) you can use it even though its runny. But if it is the other kind, it’s not going to give you the full strength of umami taste. Keep trying, you are doing a good job with your paste 🙂
I’ve made my own green curry paste but its been quite a few years; it’s our favourite too, nice and hot but with such depth. Our galangal is dried but I have no idea what its origin is, I’ll check for sure next time I buy it.
Hi, Eva. Thanks for dropping by and the nice comment. There is a night and day difference between store bought paste and homemade. Also, if I have already gone to the trouble to make the paste, I will find different ways to use it which isn’t really hard given we love Thai curries so much. 🙂
I was really excited to see your recipe, Richard, and it does look pretty. I’ve only recently started cooking with green curry paste and had wondered how it was made. Thanks for today’s lesson. I plan on giving it a go. I think I could source pretty much all of the ingredients rather easily, save for the galangal. I’ve seen it but have no idea which it was. The only real problem I foresee, Richard, is in a sentence you wrote. Something about baby Lady thinking it needed a “little” more kick. Little? If that’s true, it is already far beyond my limits. 🙂
Hi, John. 🙂 Thanks for the nice compliment. Baby Lady chuckled when she read your comment. The 10 Thai green chiles packs a wallop but this combination is perfect for me. So, this is really hot but you have to bear in mind you’re not going to sit down and eat the paste by itself. You will use anywhere from 4 – 6 Tbsp of paste in a final dish which will tame the paste considerably. I would suggest using 8 Thai chiles for the first paste and start your curry by only using 2 Tbsp of paste. If you want a little more flavor and punch, add another Tbsp or so until you get it where you want it. We absolutely love Thai curries.
Mmmmmm. I can see lots of potential for this sauce.
Hi, Peggy. This paste is the backbone for many Thai dishes. Lots of flavor. 🙂
Fabulous! We love curry at our house and this looks very doable! Only thing is my husband doesn’t like anything seafood so I’m not sure about the shrimp paste. Or even if we could find it round here. 🙂
Hi, Virginia. Thanks for the compliment. 🙂 As for hubs, there is only a small amount of shrimp paste, only 1 Tbsp out of 1-1/2 to 2 cups curry paste. I seriously doubt he could identify any seafood in the final curry paste much less in a dish prepared with it. The paste is very fresh and vibrant and packs some heat. When you make the Thai green curry, you will only use 4 – 6 Tbsp of the paste, max, depending upon how spicy you want the dish. It will be coupled with at least 1 can of coconut milk, veggies and a protein (seafood, poultry, port, etc) which further minimizes the flavor of the shrimp paste. Nonetheless, I know many people who treat shrimp paste as optional. I would think the most difficult item for you to find would be the kaffir lime leaves. There really is no substitute for Kaffir lime leaves although some people suggest 1/2 a small bay leaf, 1/4 tsp of lime zest, 1/8 tsp of fresh lemon thyme per leaf.
Thanks for the tips! I’d love to make it so he loves it as curry is one of his favourites.
one of my favorite curries! thanks for the recipe 😉 I’ve been meaning to look it up to make mussels!
QUESTION? We love CURRY! YUMMMMM! So does our daughter and son in law. 🙂 However, she is highly allergic to shell fish… what could we substitute for shrimp paste?
Just eliminate it. You will lose a little depth of flavor but it is what it is. You still will have the brightness, the freshness and the spiciness with depth of character.