Thursday, December 27, 2012

Green Curry Paste


When Pop, our wonderful exchange student from Thailand, lived with us I became hooked on making curry pastes from scratch rather than buying the little bottles in the store. Pop is a terrific cook and spoiled us well with her delicious food! I took notes when she was cooking, and green curry paste was something she made fairly often.


Fresh curry paste is vibrant and flavorful. By making your own, you can tweak the ingredients (I leave out the traditional shrimp paste) and the spice levels. No cooking is involved and it's a quick one to make.


You can whiz the ingredients together in a food processor, or my favorite way is to use a mortar and pestle. This method takes time, and there is something quite satisfying about pounding away and creating the bright green paste. The lively scents of lemongrass, basil, cilantro, chiles and lime coming together are intoxicating. As I pound away, I inhale deeply, my spirits lift and I feel awake. My eyes water, too!


When mixed with coconut milk and veggies, simmered and then ladled over rice, this curry paste transforms into a simple, spicy stew. It warms and soothes on a cold winter night when the snow is falling. And if you’re looking for a unique gift to bring your hosts on New Year's Eve, just spoon some into a little jar with a ribbon around it. I wish you a happy, healthy, and delicious new year!


Green Curry Paste
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lime zest
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 ounces green chiles (Thai or Serrano chiles are good), stems removed and roughly chopped (remove seeds if less heat is desired)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for another use)
1 large shallot (about 3 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 ounce fresh galangal root, finely minced
2 ounces Thai basil leaves, slivered
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Stir all the ingredients except the water the lemon juice together in a bowl. Depending upon the size of your mortar, you may need to make this in batches. Place your mortar on a folded kitchen towel to secure its base and protect your kitchen counter. Scoop the spice and chile mix into the mortar and begin mashing with your pestle. Add a couple drops of water and lemon juice to moisten and help it come together. Continue mashing and bashing until a rough paste is formed. This may take about 15 minutes and will give you a bit of a workout.

If you would prefer a quicker method, you can pulse the ingredients in a food processor until a rough paste forms, adding the water and lemon juice to help it come together.

Scoop the paste into a jar and cover. The paste keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks or can be frozen, so it's great to make extra to have on hand.

22 comments:

  1. I have everything for this except galangal root, I have heard of it but don't really know what it is or where I will source it. It's NYC so I know I can find it. Sounds wonderful and yet another idea for gift box (still working on them) for a vegan friend.

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Fresh galangal root can be found in Asian markets and at Whole Foods. It's in the ginger family, so if you aren't able to locate some (although in NYC I'm sure you will) you can substitute fresh ginger. Galangal is spicier than ginger, so I'd use a bit more ginger in the recipe. I hope you and your friend both enjoy the curry paste! Happy New Year to you!

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  2. I had the same question but from your photo - guessed it was probably in the ginger family. I never know what to expect from your posts except that they will always be creative and interesting and beautiful. You have not disappointed. :-) Happy New Year to you Hannah - looking forward to an exciting year filled with food adventures!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Beth! I appreciate your kind words very much. I wish you a very happy, healthy year ahead. Cheers to 2013 and lots of good food! :)

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  3. Hannah this curry paste sounds amazing!!!! I would love to saute some shrimp and chinese broccoli in coconut oil and finish with a tablespoon of this!

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    1. Thank you, Alyssa! I like your suggestion - I haven't used broccoli in a curry before and love the idea. I'll be trying it soon! Happy 2013 to you!

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  4. This looks wonderful! And it's nice to see a vegetarian version. How does one pronounce galangal? I've never heard of it before!

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    1. Thanks, Brooke! I hadn't heard of galangal root until Pop started cooking with us. It's pronounced ga-LAYN-gal (with hard g's as in "go"). You can find it at Whole Foods or Asian markets like Uwajimaya. Wishing you a wonderful 2013!

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  5. I always make my own curry paste and it seriously tastes better than the store bought one. I am vegetarian so I always worry about the shrimp paste and fish sauce in ready made sauces also. I have been wanting to blog my curry paste recipe, it's only slightly different from yours. Will probably blog it soon :)

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    1. You do have to read ingredients carefully with pre-made sauces - so much better to make your own. Knowing your recipes, your curry paste is sure to be a lovely one and I look forward to you sharing it! Happy 2013!

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  6. I absolutely adore green curry, but must admit I've never thought to make it. I am definitely going to try this...thai food is one of my favorites and something I have not yet perfected. A new 2013 goal!!

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    1. Love this goal, Erina! Thai food really is marvelous, and making it at home is just delicious. I'm sure you'll make some terrific Thai meals! Happy 2013 to you and hope to see you soon!

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  7. This looks wonderful. I've recently fallen in love with green curry, so this is a perfect recipe for me right now. I can't wait to make it and start to experiment with how to use it. Thanks, and Happy New Year!!

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    1. Thank you, Susan! I hope you enjoy the curry paste - you can tweak it to suit your tastes with the spice levels, too. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2013!

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  8. Looks delicious! I will be trying!

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    1. Thank you, Kate! I hope you enjoy it. We just finished off a batch last night with chicken, cabbage and coconut milk. Happy 2013 to you!

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  9. I have all the ingredients except the galangia (I'll use ginger instead)...thanks for sharing your recipe.

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    1. My pleasure, Karen! I'm delighted you're making the curry paste and hope you enjoy it. Happy 2013 to you!

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  10. Happy New Year Hannah! I'm so jealous. I love Thai food and wish that I have an exchange student living with me (maybe one day when my kids are older...). Although I don't eat spicy food, Thai food really amazes me. It's one of my top 3 favorite food that I truly enjoy. This must be wonderful!

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    1. Happy 2013 to you Nami! The nice thing about cooking Thai food at home is you can control the spiciness - a little bit of curry paste will add a punch of flavor but not much heat, or you can decrease the amount of chiles you use in the paste. I could eat Thai food everyday - one of my favorites, too. And I highly recommend hosting an exchange student. It's such a rewarding, fun experience.

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  11. Just beautiful! And what a unique gift. I love green curry & was lucky enough to make it from scratch, in Thailand at a cooking class. And I completely agree so satisfying & comforting to make it from scratch.

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    1. Thank you, Mairi! I'm envious of your cooking class in Thailand...what fun you must have had. We're planning to visit Pop later this year and a cooking class is high on my wish-list!

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