A mini food processor is good to use here but you can use a pestle and mortar if you are feeling energetic and want to help get rid of the old bingo wings! I use one of these but any small one will do
- 3 teaspoons white pepper corns or 1.5 tsp of ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 8 dry red chilies (soaked in water for about 10 minutes to soften them) or maybe 6 fresh red Birdseye
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 – 14 small cloves of garlic
- 5 small shallots (Thai shallots are the size of grapes, so it’s about 2 tablespoons worth)
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced lemongrass or pureed from a jar
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced coriander roots
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced galangal or pureed from a jar
- Skin of ½ kaffir lime or you could use a bit of grated lime zest
- ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste
- First pound the dry ingredients. Add 3 teaspoons of white pepper corns to your mortar and pound it until it’s a fine powder.
- Add ½ teaspoon of cumin and ½ teaspoon of coriander to the pepper and mix it all thoroughly, and then set them aside in a small bowl.
Note: If you only have pre-ground white pepper, you can eliminate the first step and just mix these 3 spices together in a small bowl.
- Take 6-8 dry spur chilies (soak them in water for a few minutes to rehydrate them, then drain the chilies. (or fresh as mentioned above) Cut off their stems, and you can then chop them into small centimetre pieces. You can take out the seeds to make their red curry paste less spicy, but in I think you’ve got to keep the seeds.
- Add the chopped dry chilies to the mortar along with ½ teaspoon of salt and start pounding. Keep on pounding for about 5 – 10 minutes until most of the chilies are nice and broken, the oils are coming out,
- Peel about 10 – 14 cloves of garlic.
- Next peel 5 small shallots Chop them into small pieces.
- Take 1 stalk of lemongrass, (or tbsp. of puree) pull off and discard the outermost leaf, and then slice it from the bottom into small slivers. You want enough for 1 tablespoon.
- Take the fresh coriander roots from about 3 stalks, cut off the roots, slice them into small pieces, and again you want about 1 tablespoon worth of coriander roots.
- Take your galangal (or pureed), and if you can find baby galangal that’s not too old, it will be softer, but whatever you have is alright. Again, slice it into pieces and you want enough for 1 tablespoon worth.
- Next take a fresh kaffir lime and slice off only the green skin. You want to slice off the skin very delicately, making sure you get mostly green, not cutting off any of the white pith. Use the skin from about ½ of the kaffir lime.
- Toss all those ingredients into the already pounded chilies.
- Pound and pound and pound (whizz in processor) until you’ve got a buttery, oily, and extremely fragrant Thai red curry paste. This should take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes, and yes, it’s tough work, but it’s so worth it (again, you can alternatively use a blender or food processor).
- When your paste is buttery and smooth, go back to your bowl of white pepper and dry spices, and mix it into the paste. You don’t need to pound hard now, just mix it all in and smooth it out.
- Final step is to add in just ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste. Pound your paste altogether and make sure the shrimp paste is fully mixed in.