Whether you’re making a prawn Laksa or a warm chicken coconut stew, this versatile paleo friendly curry paste can serve as a flavour foundation in many recipes. You can use it as a rub on chicken or beef before grilling, or when baking a whole fish in foil or paper bag. Make it once, use many times – as they say.
The key to making an authentic Thai curry paste is being able to get your hands on the right ingredients. The herbs and spices used in this curry paste are common in Thai, Malay and other Asian cuisines, so many greengrocers and Asian stores should stock them. You can replace some of them with dried and ground alternatives, but it might not have the same punch and aroma as you get from the fresh stuff.
The recipe below makes enough paste to be used in a laksa soup and say a curry stew. If you’re a fan of Thai and Malay cuisines like I am, you can always double the amounts and make a bigger batch. I keep leftover paste in an air-tight glass container covered with a layer of olive oil, this should last for a few weeks in the fridge. Alternatively, you can freeze it for a few months (no oil needed).
Grinding these fresh ingredients as finely as you can will result in the best, smoothest paste. My food processor didn’t process the paste as smoothly as I would have liked but it still worked really well. Traditionally, the paste is ground using a large mortar and pestle resulting in a very fine, smooth paste. You can easily use a small mortar and pestle as well
Shrimp paste often comes in solid blocks or squares. I used one square (2x2cm) in this recipe. You can find it as a paste in a glass jar as well.
- 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped roughly
- 4 small red chilies, deseeded (e.g. Birds eye chilli)
- 3-cm root of fresh turmeric (think the size of an index finger), peeled
- 3-cm root of fresh galangal (think of your thumb finger), peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3-cm fresh ginger root, peeled
- 5–6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro, (we’re mainly interested in the stalks from about half way down, make sure to rinse them)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (for extra colour)
- 1 medium brown onion, peeled and chopped (shallots can also be used)
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
- Process all ingredients in a food processor or a blender until ground as smooth as possible and well combined. Store the paste in a clean, airtight jar in the fridge for up to a month, or freeze it for a few months.