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Red Curry Paste

(recipe, Gary Knopke)

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This is a recipe for a Thai red curry paste. Although the paste is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, I prefer a small food processor, which gives the proper consistency, and significantly reduces the preparation time. This recipe makes about 1 cup of paste, which can be used immediately, stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, or frozen for many months. There are many recipes for finishing the curry, and there is one variation, using chicken, pumpkin, and red bell-pepper, included with this recipe.


    Paste Ingredients:
    1. 30 dried red chilies (about ½ cup)
    2. 5 large shallots
    3. 5 garlic cloves, peeled
    4. 1 wine cork sized piece galangal or ginger, very thinly sliced
    5. 1 Tbsp. fresh lemongrass, sliced very thinly
    6. 2 Tbsp. paprika
    7. 1 tsp. shrimp paste
    8. 1 tsp. ground coriander
    9. ½ tsp. salt
    10. ½ tsp. black peppercorns
    11. ½ tsp. ground cumin
    12. ¼ tsp. cardamom
    Curry Ingredients:
    1. 1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
    2. 2 cups coconut milk
    3. 2 cups chicken stock
    4. 1 0.5 cup pumpkin, cut into bite-sized pieces
    5. 1 cup lightly packed Thai basil
    6. 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    7. 1 tomato, sliced into sections
    8. Fish sauce, to taste


      Preparing the paste:
      1. Soak the dried chilies in water for 10 minutes, before processing.
      2. Galangal and lemongrass can be rather hard, so slice the piece thinly, to ensure adequate mixing in the processor.
      3. Beginning with the chilies, add the ingredients to the processor, one at a time, and combine until smooth. The spices can be added together.
      4. If the paste becomes too thick to combine well in the processor, add a small amount of water.
      Making the curry:
      1. In a large pan, over high heat, bring the coconut milk to a boil, stirring frequently.
      2. Just as the milk boils, add the curry paste and stir until it is well blended.
      3. Add the chicken stock, and return to a boil.
      4. Turn down the heat to medium-high, add the chicken and pumpkin, and slowly boil until they are nearly cooked through – about 8 minutes.
      5. Add the bell pepper, and cook until tender - about 4 minutes.
      6. Turn off the heat, stir in the tomato and the basil, and let them warm – about 1 minute (too long and the tomato tends to become mushy)
      7. Just before serving, season with fish sauce, if desired.
      8. Serve with jasmine rice.