Dish of Green Curry Paste

Green Curry Paste
Thailand
  -   Krueng gaeng kiow wahn
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
6 oz  
***
1-1/2 hr  
Total
This is the hottest of the Thai curry pastes and used with abandon in a number of famous dishes. A third cup of chopped Thai green chilis seem rather a lot to you? Well, yes - we're not making baby food here! If you are overcome by the fumes, just step back for a minute and have a couple swigs of your beer - it'll be a good batch!   See Notes.



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1
1
9
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1
1
3
1/4
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1/3
1/3
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6
2
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1
1-1/2
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t
T

---
T
t

c
---
c
c
---
cl
T
---
t
t
-- Spice mix
Cumin Seeds
Coriander Seeds
Peppercorns, black
-- Galanga mix
Galangal (1)
Kaffir Lime peel (2)  
Lemon Grass stalk
Cilantro root (3)
-- Chili mix
Thai Chili fresh (4)
Chili Leaf (opt) (5)
-- Shallot mix
Garlic
Shallots
-----------------
Shrimp Paste (6)
Salt
All volume measures are after chopping small. This paste is traditionally made by pounding in a large stone mortar, and that's still really the best way for parts. See Note-7

  1. Separately dry fry CORIANDER and CUMIN until quite fragrant and darkening just slightly, then cool and grind in a spice mill along with Peppercorns. Do this first, because after the chilis your nose may not work well for awhile.
  2. Peel GALANGAL if needed, and slice very thin. Slice into fine threads, then slice the threads crosswise into tiny bits. Pound to thin flakes in the mortar. Pour out into a bowl separate from the spice mix.
  3. Slice LIME PEEL into tiny bits and pound as with the Galangal. Add to the Galangal mix.
  4. Remove tough outer leaves from LEMON GRASS, cut off hard root end and pound thoroughly with the smooth side of your kitchen mallet - then slice crosswise as thin as you can for about 4 to 5 inches from the root end. Pound to thin flakes in the mortar and add to the Galangal.
  5. Chop CILANTRO ROOT (or stems) fine. Pound to thin flakes (and/or pulp) in the mortar, then add to the Galangal mix.
  6. Slice CHILIS very thin. Chop CHILI LEAVES (if used). Mix and put in a separate bowl.
  7. Crush, GARLIC and chop fine. Slice SHALLOTS very thin and chop fine. Pound both to a pulp in the mortar, then scrape into a bowl separate from the other ingredients.
  8. Run the Galangal mix in your mini-prep food processor (a blender will also work but is too noisy for my taste) until it's as fine as it's going to get.
  9. Add Chili mix. continue to process until finely blended. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times.
  10. Add Shallot mix and continue to process, but now it's going to be sticky so you definitely need to stop and scrape down the sides frequently.
  11. Add Shrimp Paste, Salt and Spice mix and continue to process (scraping down the sides) until evenly mixed.
  12. You should now have a rather dry but fairly smooth paste. Pack in a 6 oz jar. Stored tightly sealed in the refrigerator it will last for months.
NOTES:
  1. Galangal:   If you can't get it fresh or frozen, don't use dry - it has little flavor. Use fresh ginger instead - way different taste but it has taste. For details see our Galangal page.
  2. Kaffir Lime:   if you don't have any use grated zest of a regular lime (no white). Not the same but better than nothing. For details see our Kaffir Lime page.
  3. Cilantro Roots:   These are difficult to get even in Southern California, so you may have to use stems - include no leaves.
  4. Chilis:   Unfortunately, Thai chilis here in Southern California are often disappointingly mild, so I end up using 1/2 cup. Use your own best judgement here - but 1/4 cup would be the absolute minimum. If you can't get Thai chilis, green de Arbols are a decent substitute. Serranos can be used but the flavor will be a bit different - I wouldn't worry, they grow Serranos (Prik e noo kaset) in Thailand now. For details see our Chili Page.
  5. Chili Leaves:   These are sometimes used, but not required. They just make the paste much greener. When I made the batch in the photo above, I had no dark green chili plants that could spare leaves, so I used a very dark green Chili Poblano. Fresh or frozen chili leaves can often be found in Philippine markets.
  6. Shrimp Paste:   Preferably Thai shrimp paste, which is a bit more refined than most. For details see our Shrimp Sauce / Paste page.
  7. Method:   I have carefully developed the above sequence to get the best results with the least effort and mess. For best results you need a Thai Granite Mortar or similar with a heavy pestle. "Gourmet" and standard kitchen mortars are totally inadequate (for practically any use, actually). My granite mortar is 7-3/4 inches across with a 5-1/2 inch diameter bowl and a 3 pound pestle. If you don't have such a device (then order one now), you can get by with just the mini-prep processor or blender, but the texture will be a little grainy. I have also made this by grinding the ingredients in the mini-prep first, adding them in the order given, then pounding the finished sauce in the big stone mortar. Both methods worked fine.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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