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Red Curry Paste
(recipe, Gary Knopke)
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.
- 30 dried red chilies (about ½ cup)
- 5 large shallots
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 wine cork sized piece galangal or ginger, very thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemongrass, sliced very thinly
- 2 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. shrimp paste
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black peppercorns
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. cardamom
- 1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 0.5 cup pumpkin, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup lightly packed Thai basil
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tomato, sliced into sections
- Fish sauce, to taste
Preparing the paste:
- Soak the dried chilies in water for 10 minutes, before processing.
- Galangal and lemongrass can be rather hard, so slice the piece thinly, to ensure adequate mixing in the processor.
- Beginning with the chilies, add the ingredients to the processor, one at a time, and combine until smooth. The spices can be added together.
- If the paste becomes too thick to combine well in the processor, add a small amount of water.
Making the curry:
- In a large pan, over high heat, bring the coconut milk to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Just as the milk boils, add the curry paste and stir until it is well blended.
- Add the chicken stock, and return to a boil.
- Turn down the heat to medium-high, add the chicken and pumpkin, and slowly boil until they are nearly cooked through – about 8 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper, and cook until tender - about 4 minutes.
- 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)
- Just before serving, season with fish sauce, if desired.
- Serve with jasmine rice.