Thai Red Curry Paste [Kaeng Phed]

This is an incredibly easy and versatile recipe; it makes a delicious flavour base for use in curries, soups, stir-fries, whatever.  Sure, you can buy curry pastes at the shop, but they are full of preservatives and are very harsh and un-subtle in flavour. 

I tend to double, or even triple the recipe so I always have tubs of Red Curry Paste in my fridge and freezer [and my family and friends beg and bribe for their very own jar].

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Ingredients:

15 large red chillies

8 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 x 2.5 cm piece of fresh green ginger, peeled

2 bunches coriander, rinsed

2 tbs shrimp paste * or about 1/2 cup dried shrimp, soaked in hot water until softened [1/2 hour] and drained

6 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water until softened [1/2 hour] and drained

juice and rind of one lime

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp red paprika

2 tbs sea salt

1 tbs black peppercorns

1 tbs sesame oil

canola oil [for sealing purposes]

* dried shrimp paste is available in jars and tins. It is potent-smelling stuff [read: it stinks] but provides an amazing depth of flavour. Wrap the dried shrimp paste in a square of aluminium foil, and place under a hot grill, or toast over a gas flame for two minutes to release the flavours, before adding to the mixture

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Method:

Roughly chop chillies [hint: wear a disposable glove over the non-knife hand to protect from incendiary chilli juices], scraping out and discarding most of the seeds if you want a milder paste [I don’t].

Roughly chop all other vegetables. Place all ingredients [including herbs, spices and sesame oil] into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Blend in batches until ground into a paste. Again, the consistency is up to you, but I prefer a coarser texture with identifiable bits of chillies and garlic and coriander showing through, so not too fine.

Decant into glass jars, smooth top, cover with a film of canola oil, screw lid on tightly and label with date of production. Alternatively, decant into small plastic tubs [eg, Gladware], label with date and freeze – thaw as required.

The paste will last in the fridge for a couple of months so long as the top doesn’t dry out [make sure you smooth the top and keep covered with a film of oil after each use] and several months in the freezer.  It probably could last longer but I wouldn’t recommend it, and of course the intensity of flavour would deteriorate.

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