I am a big fan of Thai food and realized I haven’t posted many recipes for you. To get familiarized you need to know the versatility of curry pastes and how easy they are to make. While you can always buy store bought, pre-made ones, homemade versions take the freshness flavor level up to a ten.
Most ingredients are the same with a few additions or substitutions to alter the flavor. Lemongrass, garlic, shallots shrimp paste and chiles are the usual suspects and then the flavor additions of kaffir lime rind and leaves, ginger, galangal and spices alter the curry pastes. There are red, green and yellow curry pastes and the one I going to show you today is my Easy Thai Yellow Curry Paste.
As some of you may know I like to always try something as it is written and then adapt to my own needs later. The same holds true when making something for the first time from some one else’s recipe. While Sujet Saenkham doesn’t necessarily say to make this in a mortar and pestle in his book, “Spice I Am” I have seen several videos on making your own Thai curry paste with it and thought I’d give it a try.
Call me crazy, because I was sweating, my eyes were tearing up as this is some potent stuff. Besides an arm workout, it was really something to watch it all come together, and the aromas? Holy heck, it is just outstanding, something you don’t get from a jar when you take the lid off one of those store bought ones.
I made it both ways actually. One in my food processor and another batch via a 40 minute arm workout in my trusty molcajete.
Let me just say if you don’t want the workout, go the food processor route. I am all about making good use of your time, but it also allowed me to appreciate the cool kitchen aids we have at our disposal today like the food processor.
Now you might be thinking, who needs a cup and a half of Thai Yellow Curry Paste? Well I figured if you go to the effort of making it from scratch, save some for a later meal, right?
To freeze for later use I pour the curry paste into a ice cube tray, freeze and store the curry paste cubes in a labeled ZipLoc plastic bag for easy use next time the need for a Thai Yellow Curry dish comes to mind. Simply remove a cube or two of the paste from the freezer to thaw and you have fresh, homemade Thai Yellow Curry Paste. The best part is you know exactly what went into it.
After I did a side by side comparison, the flavors were the same, but the texture was not and I didn’t care for the granular, slightly chunky texture of the mortar and pestle version as much as I did the smoother consistency of the food processor version. I even took it a step further and dropped the chunkier version in my Vitamix and puréed the curry paste smoother. This was perfect! If you like this one try my Easy Red Thai Curry Paste.
Needless to say, I will be showing you what to make with this Easy Thai Yellow Curry Paste, so please come back to see my next post, Thai Yellow Curry Shrimp with Pineapple. Enjoy!
I’ve had a few inquiries on the chiles in this curry paste. There are Japones chiles, dried Birds Eye chiles, but the ones I most often use in Asian cooking are the Tien Tsin chiles I get at a nearby market. Most can be found online, too, if you don’t have the nearby availability. For this recipe though I used the Japones as I had them on hand.
Easy Thai Yellow Curry Paste
- 40 small dried red chiles
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 lemongrass stalk
- 3 shallots
- 6 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled
- 1 1/2 tbsp shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3/4 cup water
- Soften the chiles in a bowl with hot water for 3 minutes. Trim the root end and tough outer leaves off the lemongrass stalk. Use only the white part and a little of the green. Cut in half.
- In a food processor add the drained chiles, salt, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, ginger, shrimp paste, curry powder, spices and water. Purée until a smooth paste.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days or freeze in cubes and store in a plastic bag for up to 2 months.