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I learned to make this at a Thai cooking school attached to a well-known Australian Thai Restaurant. As a guide, 1/2 a cup of the paste, 1 1/2 cups of coconut cream, 2 tablespoons of palm sugar and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce will make a sauce for for 500g or 1lb of meat. The paste will keep in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I spoon 1/4 cup measures into a muffin tin, freeze it, then remove the little 'muffins' of paste into zip-lock bags - 2 per bag - and return to the freezer. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE INGREDIENTS in this recipe, or you won't get that authentic Thai taste.
- 15 dried red chilies, deseeded, then soaked in boiling hot water for at least 10 minutes, deseed by cutting off one end an
- 2 small red onions, quartered
- 12 garlic cloves, fresh, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks lemongrass, crushed and the white part chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon galangal, peeled and chopped (galangal from a jar is OK, but ginger is not a good substitute)
- 2 tablespoons coriander roots, scraped, washed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime zest, finely shredded (I use a microplane shredder)
- 2 teaspoons white peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted in a dry pan until fragrant
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed, roasted in a dry pan until fragrant
- 1⁄2 teaspoon mace, roasted in a dry pan until fragrant (nutmeg will do if you can't get mace)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons shrimp paste, wrapped in foil and roasted in a 180C/350F oven for 10-15 minutes
- Prepare all ingredients as instructed above.
- Drain the chillies and discard liquid.
- In a food processor, puree the chillies and all the other fresh ingredients until very fine.
- Grind all the spices together (you can use a mortar and pestle - I use a small food processor).
- Add the roasted shrimp paste to the spices and grind again until combined.
- Add the spice/shrimp paste mix to the puree and mix well.
- Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in the refrigerator or freeze in 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup portions.
- 1/2 cup of the paste is sufficient for sauce for 500g/1lb of meat.