What sets southern food apart from other regional food in Thailand is the tumeric and the non-stop fiery heat in your mouth, tongue and down in your belly. From this curry paste, many other famous southern dishes are formed. Often, vegetarian versions of classic dishes miss core flavors, but this Southern Red Curry Paste still offers the full southern Thai food experience.
Vegetarian Southern Red Curry Paste - Prig Gang Tai Mung Sawirat พริกแกงใต้มังสวิรัติ
- 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 inch piece galangal
- 1/3 cup lemongrass
- 10-20 Dried whole chilis
- 1/2 cup garlic
- 3-4 inches turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 shallots
- 1 teaspoon Kaffir Lime Zest
Tips and Techniques
- When cooking Thai food, use the measurements as a guide. It's ok to have a little more or less of each ingredient. Rule of thumb for making red curry paste is the amount of shallots should not be more than that of garlic.
- For a less hot curry paste, use larger and milder dried peppers like Anaheim peppers. For a super hot curry paste, used dried small Thai chilis. Add as much as you can stand the heat.
- I’d recommend a heavy duty blender like Blendtec or Vitamix for making curry pastes easier and faster. Using a self-scraper (like Twister jar) can save time on stopping and scraping the paste down toward the blade.
- Shortcut on dried chili peppers, I use the Korean red pepper powder for kimchi. It is not spicy hot but has a bright red color which is aesthetically beautiful. The powder is already small which makes grinding easier. But remember to add less salt or no salt because there is already added salt in the pepper powder.
You can make the curry paste with a blender or mortar and pestle. The advantage of using a blender is time. You can make the curry paste in no time. But the paste is rough and full of visible fibers. The traditional method of pounding the paste in mortar and pestle gives the best texture. With either method, the refreshing Thai fragrance will permeate your house.
Start with the peppercorns. They are small and often escape the blades. Then proceed to the hardest ingredient, galangal. You may need to slice or julienne galangal to fit the power of your blender. Mine took the sliced pieces really well. Blend the galangal. Then add the sliced lemongrass and blend well. The rest of the ingredients can go in. Blend well. Scrape the side of the jar with the self-twisting scrapers or use a scraper. The blender process took less than 10 minutes with the self-scrapers.
Mortar and Pestle Method
Remove seeds and soak the chili peppers. Julienne the galangal. Peel the garlic and shallots. Slice the lemongrass, turmeric and shallots. Thinly slice the kaffir lime zest from the lime.
Start with finely grinding the peppercorns. Add julienne galangal and pound to break up the galangal into a fine paste. Add the sliced lemongrass next. Squeeze the chili peppers to get rid of the water. Add the chili peppers and salt to the mortar. Grind to break up the chili pepper. This may take a bit of time. You don’t want pieces of chili peppers floating in your curry. Add the turmeric and kaffir lime zest next. Pound to mix everything in. Last, add shallots. The high water content in shallots makes it difficult to pound. You may want to use the other hand to cup the opening of the mortar to prevent spicy paste splattering at you. Pound until smooth.
You can store the curry paste in an airtight bag in the freezer for up to a year. When you need to use the curry paste, it can go from the freezer directly to cooking or marinating. Because there is no water added, the paste breaks up easily even when it’s frozen
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