Prep 30 mins
Cook 0 mins
From Nancie McDermott's Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking. If you want to save time you can grind the spices and combine the rest using a food processor instead of a mortar. I have been using this recipe lately and with the exception of the fresh lemongrass (you can substitute 4 tsp dried) all of the ingredients are easy to find. I sometimes also substitute a little lime juice for the peel and green onions for the shallot. You can also roast batches of seeds ahead of time--just don't grind them until you're ready to use them.
- 1⁄2 cup small dried red chili
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 4 stalks fresh lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh galangal or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced lime peel
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
- 1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped shallot
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Stem the chilies and shake out and discard most of the seeds. Chop them coarsely and place in a small bowl with warm water to cover. Soak 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dry-fry the coriander and the cumin seeds 3 - 5 minutes each over medium heat.
- Combine the roasted seeds with the peppercorns and grind to powder. Set aside.
- Chop lemongrass stalks and add to mortar.
- Add the cilantro, galanga/ginger, and lime peel. Pound. Add garlic and shallot and continue pounding until a paste forms.
- Drain the chilies and add them to the mortar. After they are ground, add the spices, shrimp paste, and salt, and continue grinding until you achieve a smooth paste.
- Refrigerate in a tightly covered glass jar; keeps up to one month.