Spice up your kitchen adventures with this Homemade Red Curry Paste! Ready in just 15 minutes, it’s the perfect blend to elevate any dish with a burst of authentic flavor.
It’s just so easy to keep a tub of Authentic Thai Red Curry Paste in the fridge for those nights when I completely forget to plan something for dinner and I need to throw something together at the last minute. I will show you how to make red curry paste so you can do the same. I usually buy this brand of curry paste, which comes in red, green curry paste, yellow, massaman, and panang (all of which are delicious!).
I adapted the recipe from Nancie McDermott’s book Quick and Easy Thai which is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.
Table of Contents
What is Red Curry Paste?
Red Curry Paste is a crucial component in Thai cuisine, known for its bold and spicy flavors. It’s a versatile blend of ingredients that typically includes dried red chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger or galangal root, ground coriander, ground cumin, pepper, and salt. This paste forms the foundation for numerous Thai dishes, particularly red curry, and adds a complex and aromatic profile to curries, soups, stir-fries, and more.
There are two primary types of Red Curry Paste referred to as “prik gaeng kua” and “prik gaeng ped” in Thai cuisine. The distinction between the two lies in the inclusion of coriander seeds and cumin seeds. “Gaeng ped” includes these extra spices, while “gaeng kua” does not. It’s worth noting that opinions on this differentiation can vary. Some prefer the simpler “gaeng kua,” while others enjoy the added depth of flavour from “gaeng ped.” Both types are similar enough that they can be used interchangeably, as the amount of additional spices is relatively small, making it a matter of personal preference.
Reasons to Love This Curry Paste
- Red Thai Curry paste offers a vibrant blend of spices that elevate any dish with its rich and robust flavor profile.
- You can use it in curries, soups, marinades, and even as a flavor enhancer in non-Asian dishes. For Thai dishes, you can add this paste to Thai Red Curry, fish cakes, or elevate your Thai Fried Rice!
- This ready-made paste saves time and effort, making complex flavors accessible with minimal preparation.
- Homemade Red Curry Paste has a long shelf life. When stored properly, red curry paste lasts a long time, making it a pantry staple.
- It brings the authentic flavors of Thai cuisine right into your kitchen.
- Dried Red New Mexico Chili Peppers: They offer a mild, sweet heat with earthy undertones. Their soft, pliable texture enriches the paste’s consistency.
- Dried Chiles de Arbol: These chilies provide a sharp, fiery taste with a slightly smoky flavor.
- Shallots: Shallots add a subtle, sweet yet sharp flavor, with a hint of garlic.
- Garlic: Garlic imparts a pungent, savory depth, essential for any curry paste.
- Fresh Ginger or Galanga Root: Ginger offers a warm, spicy kick with a lemony undertone, while galanga adds a sharper, more citrusy note. Their fibrous texture is key for an invigorating, zesty punch.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Galangal Variation: If unavailable, ginger paired with lime zest makes for an excellent substitute, maintaining the zesty essence in your Thai Red Curry Paste recipe.
- Lemongrass Paste: Add lemongrass paste to bring in a citrusy, herbal flavor, complementing the existing ingredients.
- Chili Variation: You can swap the chilies with red bell pepper for a vibrant red color and a milder, sweeter flavor of the paste.
- Add Shrimp Paste: Include 1 to 2 teaspoon shrimp paste for a distinct umami flavor, reminiscent of authentic Thai curry pastes. This addition brings depth and complexity to your paste.
- Lime Juice: Replace some of the salt with freshly squeezed lime juice for acidity.
- Fish Sauce: A small amount of fish sauce can provide depth and savory notes.
How to Make Red Curry Paste
Step #1: Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chilies. Chop the chilies into small pieces, then soak them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Step #2: Meanwhile, place the shallots, garlic, ginger or galanga root, coriander, cumin, pepper, and salt into the bowl of a food processor or blender.
Step #3: Once the chilies have finished soaking, drain off the water and add them to the food processor.
Step #4: Use the processor to grind the ingredients into a paste. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
- Soak Chilies Properly: Ensure chilies are fully submerged in warm water for even softening.
- Use a Good Food Processor: A high-quality processor will create a smoother, more consistent paste.
- Balance Flavors: Taste as you go and adjust ingredients like garlic, ginger, and salt to balance the flavors.
- Grind to Right Consistency: Aim for a smooth, well-integrated paste; too chunky or too fine can affect the texture.
- Wear Gloves: Safeguard your skin from chili burns by using gloves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use a mortar and pestle for a more traditional approach. It may require more effort and time, but it can result in a paste with a rustic texture and enhanced flavors through the grinding process.
The paste should be smooth and homogenous, without any large pieces of chili or other ingredients. It should resemble a fine, well-integrated spread, indicating that it’s been blended sufficiently.
Definitely! Adding ingredients like fresh lemongrass stalks or kaffir lime leaves will infuse the paste with extra layers of fragrance and flavor, creating a more complex and aromatic blend. If kaffir lime leaves are not available, lemon zest can also work.
Yes, this recipe can be easily scaled up for bulk preparation. Just keep the proportions of the ingredients consistent to maintain the flavor balance.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 month or in the freezer for 1 year.
For efficient storage, consider dividing any remaining red curry paste into two tablespoon portions and freezing them in an ice cube tray. After freezing, remove the paste cubes and transfer them to a freezer-safe zipper-close bag. This method allows for easy portioning and access when you need smaller amounts. Properly sealed, this frozen red curry paste can stay good for up to a year in the freezer. However, if you choose to store the paste using this method, always ensure that it is properly sealed to prevent freezer burn. To use after freezing, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours.
More Delicious Thai Recipes That You Will Love
Easy Homemade Red Curry Paste Recipe
- 3 large dried red New Mexico Chili peppers
- 10 small dried chiles de arbol
- 1/2 c. coarsely chopped shallots
- 1/4 c. coarsely chopped garlic
- 1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh ginger or galangal
- 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chilies. Chop the chilies into small pieces, then soak them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Meanwhile, place the shallots, garlic, ginger or galanga root, coriander, cumin, pepper, and salt into the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- Once the chilies have finished soaking, drain off the water and add them to the food processor.
- Use the processor to grind the ingredients into a paste. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month in the fridge, or freeze for up to 1 year.