Whenever I travel I try to find a cooking class. Singaporean, Malay, Thai, Viet and Khmer people all share a common love of curries and invariably, the classes have me cutting up fresh ingredients and pounding them with mortar and pestle. The ingredients change according to dish but sometimes it feels like I’m learning the same thing over and over again. Call it rempeh or curry paste, there is always chillis and garlic. Variations include shallots, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, shrimp paste, herbs and dry roasted spices.
In my last class I had an Ah-HA moment. You can make different dishes with the same paste. A red curry paste wasn’t only for a Red Curry dish. It could be used for a Jungle Curry, a Yellow Curry, a Phanang Curry, a soupy Khao Soy, a slurpable Spicy Glass Noodles. The cooking technique is almost always the same. The difference is in the additional ingredients
After my last trip to Chang Mai (November 2015) I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of cooking Thai. It begins with this Red Curry Paste from the Siam Rice Cooking school.
Red Curry Paste
10 dried red chillis, de-seeded, soaked and chopped
10 (3 tbs) shallots, chopped
10 (2 tbs) garlic, chopped
1 inch (1 tbs) galangal, chopped
1 tbs lemongrass, chopped
1 tbs Thai shrimp paste
1 tbs Kaffir lime rind,chopped
1 tbs Thai ginseng, chopped
1 tbs coriander roots, chopped (optional)
All proportions are approximate.
Blend or pound into a fine paste. If using a blender , add a couple teaspoons of cooking oil to emulsify.