Using this good quality red curry paste in making an authentic and delicious red curry is a good idea. The way to prepare it is not too difficult.
POK POK POK…, a wonderful sound of a pestle striking a mortar with a steady rhythm from a kitchen, is a sign of preparation of the red curry paste or nam prik kaeng phed, the important ingredient in making the red curry or kaeng phed. The ingredients used with their quantities, having been passed down from generation to generation, are often vary slightly from a family to another.
Its recipe is quite similar to the basic curry paste or general nam prik kaeng except including coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Thais often roast these seeds in a pan over a low heat to obtain more aroma and add a smoky dimension.
- 5 medium-size dried red chilies (use dried cayenne pepper if available), removed seeds, cut crosswise into 1-inch length, soaked to soften in water about 15 minutes and then drained well.
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp roughly chopped galangal
- 2 tbsp sliced crosswise lemongrass stalk,
- 1 tsp citrus zest (use makrut lime zest if available)
- 1 tsp coriander roots, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped shallots
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped garlic cloves
- pinch of peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- With a mortar and pestle, pound the peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds together until ground. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Use this mortar and pestle to pound dried chilies and salt until ground.
- Add the galangal, lemongrass, citrus zest and coriander roots and pound until ground and smooth.
- Add shallots and garlic cloves and pound until ground and smooth.
- Add the ground mixed spices (from step No. 1) and shrimp paste and pound until a paste is formed well and smooth.
The ready-made red curry pastes are available in grocery stores worldwide, but those made at home are superior. A food processor or blender and a spice mill can be applied, adding a little coconut milk to process smoothly. The paste can be kept in a fridge for up to a week.