Hot and fresh Thai Red Curry Paste is just what you need to spice up your favorite vegetable and meat dishes. Prepared with spicy chiles and a handful of Asian seasonings, this curry paste is a full-bodied, versatile condiment that can be kept for months and used in so many ways.
Those who love Asian flavors and spice won’t want to skim past this recipe! While it’s easy enough to find a jar of curry paste in the grocery store, the prepackaged stuff doesn’t compare to what you can make in your own kitchen.
Making Thai red curry paste is a simple process. It involves rehydrating dried chiles, preparing ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, and blending them together with a couple of other basic Asian spices and seasonings. The result is an herbaceous, hot condiment that you can add to any number of dishes.
Red Thai curry paste is relatively spicy. Its heat is calmed by the coconut milk found in most curry recipes. If you’re using it in other cases, such as a meat rub or vegetable seasoning, add in small quantities.
Curry lovers can find a variety of recipes on Silk Road Recipes, including:
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Dried Red Chiles - I use Tien Tsin, or Chinese red peppers. You can also use Chile de Arbol, a Mexican pepper, for similar heat.
- Garlic Cloves - You won’t find a curry recipe without garlic. This recipe calls for 4 cloves, but you could add another if you like a strong garlic flavor.
- Lemongrass - Just the stalks. Sharp, citrusy, and fresh to taste, it adds a much needed brightness to this recipe. I don’t recommend substituting this ingredient, but if you cannot find it, you can use lemon zest.
- Shallots - Small, sharp, and slightly sweet. If you need to, you can use yellow onion in its place.
- Ginger - Chop your freshly peeled ginger into smaller pieces so that it blends easier.
- Shrimp Paste - A salty fermented paste. You could use fish sauce as a substitute, but it won’t have the same flavor.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves - An extremely aromatic herb with a strong lemon scent and flavor. This ingredient might be hard to find, so substitute with lime zest if necessary. Can be found in Asian markets.
HOW TO MAKE THAI RED CURRY PASTE
- Prepare the Peppers and Lemongrass. Place the chiles in a bowl, cover with hot water, and let sit for 3 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, cut off the roots and remove the leaves from the lemongrass stalk. Trim down so that you’re using only the white part and a small portion of the green, then cut in half.
- Blend the Paste. Drain the water from the chiles and add the peppers to your food processor or a blender like my Vitamix. Add the garlic, lemongrass stalk, shallots, ginger, shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, and water as well. Blend the mixture until a thick paste forms. If not smooth enough, or if you prefer a thinner paste, add small amounts of water and pulse until desired consistency is reached.
- Store. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. It will remain fresh for up to 5 days. If freezing, pour into an ice tray. Once frozen, add the cubes to a plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
What is Thai red curry paste made of?
There are a couple of ingredients that you’ll see in almost every curry recipe: chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and onion. What varies is the other spices and seasonings that are thrown in.
In red Thai curry paste, Tien Tsin peppers are used for greater heat, shrimp paste for saltiness, and lemongrass for citrus. I also add kaffir lime leaves for an even stronger floral, lemon flavor.
How spicy is Thai red curry paste?
Red curries are mid-tier when it comes to spicy curries, but are still decently spicy. Tien Tsin peppers are very hot. If you opt for Chiles de Arbol, those are pretty hot as well. The heat is quelmed a bit by the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass.
How do I use red Thai curry paste?
Curry paste is used to season curries, quite obviously, but also to flavor a number of Asian dishes.
As it's a smooth, thick paste, it can easily be added to soups and stews for heat and seasoning. A spoonful will also go a long way in a stir fry.
Additionally, it can be worked into a marinade or rub recipe for a spicy, Asian flavor! Because it contains shrimp paste, it would be particularly delicious in seafood dishes.
Thai Red Curry Paste
- 40 small dried red chiles (See Note 1)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 lemongrass stalks
- 2 shallots
- 6 inch fresh ginger peeled and chopped into 3 pieces
- 2 tablespoon shrimp paste
- 6 leaves kaffir lime
- ¼ 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, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, ginger, shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves and water. Purée until a smooth, thick paste. Thin with more water if desired for smoother consistency.
- 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.
- I use Tien Tsin chile peppers, also known as Chinese Red Peppers or Tianjin peppers found in the Asian food section of your market or any Asian store OR substitute using Chiles de Arbol found in the Mexican food section of your local market.
- Adapted from Sujet Saenkham’s Spice I Am.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.