Tag Archives: paste

Panang Curry Paste

You’ll find a few recipes for panang curry paste online, but this one is derived from the Thai cooking book I’m working through. It calls for:

  • Onions, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Garlic, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Galangal, 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Lemon grass, 1/4 cop, chopped
  • Jalapeno peppers, 4 ounces, dried
  • Shrimp paste, 2 tablespoons
  • Kaffir lime skin, 2 tablespoons
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder, 1/4 cup
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The ingredients.

This recipe is pretty simple: combine everything and blend into a paste. Done. I didn’t use as much dried jalapeno as it called for; I sed about 2 oz. Even so, bear in mind as you blend it that it’s rather dry.

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The garlic.

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To be blended.

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Blent.

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Massaman Curry Paste

Before you make a Massaman Curry in the Thai book I’m working through, you need to make a constituent ingredient – the paste. And that requires quite a few ingredients, some of them esoteric. They are:

  • Jalapeno peppers, 4, dehydrated
  • Onions, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Garlic, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Lemon grass, 1 tablespoon, chopped
  • Shallots, 2
  • Galangal, 2 thin slices
  • Star anise powder, 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin, 1 tablespoon
  • Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro, dried, 2 tablespoons
  • Kaffir lime skin, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil, 5 tablespoons
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The ingredients.

For instance, the recipe called for star anise powder. I didn’t happen to have any powder handy, but I do have the star anise. So it was a simple matter of using our spice grinder to create the powder we needed.

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Unground.

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Ground.

Similarly, with the cilantro. I didn’t have any already dried, so I dried some myself, like so:

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You wash it…

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Put it in a pan lined with parchment paper…

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…And some indeterminate time later, voila!

Galangal can also be hard to get. It’s a ginger-like root that I’ve only ever found in Asian markets. The last time I got any, I got a lot, and froze the excess. Some I froze as slices – seen here – and the rest as shredded galangal. As for the jalapenos, I tried drying some myself – both in the oven and in the open air. But that didn’t work so well, so I had to order these from Amazon.

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Galangal and jalapenos.

The Kaffir lime zest was the hardest to acquire. Normal lime zest simply won’t do; the Kaffir limes have an entirely different flavor, as does their zest. They’re one of the flavors that make certain Thai dishes – and Thai pastes, like this one – taste the way they do. But no matter where I looked, no one carries Kaffir limes – not even the Asian markets I’ve visited.

Fortunately, I found a grower in California that will ship you a box of fresh Kaffir limes – if the season is right. I ordered mine in December, and now that it’s January, I see that they’re still available. This is their 5-pound box:

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The box the limes came in.

Preparing the limes was an involved process – I had five pounds, after all. First, I washed them. Then, I zested with a microplane. Finally, it made no sense to throw away the lime juice, so I squeezed them all and froze the juice – enough for two complete batches of carnitas.

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About a third of the limes I got.

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The zesting process.

I froze the zest as well, to retrieve and use later, as required.

With all that prelude out of the way, making the paste was relatively straightforward. You prepare the onions and garlic, like so:

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Onions & garlic.

Then you melt the oil (I used coconut, but you don’t have to).

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The oil-melting process.

Add the onions, garlic, and dried jalapeno, and fry until golden brown.

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Fry until…

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…golden brown.

Then add everything – first the other ingredients, and the stuff you just fried – into a blender, and blend, blend, blend. Once you do, then you’re done, and you can put it in a jar and put that in your fridge or freezer, as you like.

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Blending.

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Blended.

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Green Curry Paste

Next, the green curry paste. The ingredients are slightly different:

  • Fresh jalapeno peppers (10)
  • Fresh Thai chili peppers (5 green)
  • Shrimp paste (1 tsp)
  • Cumin (1 tsp)
  • Garlic cloves (8)
  • Galangal (5 thin slices)
  • Lemon grass, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • Shallots, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • Cilantro stems (chopped, 1/2 cup)
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The ingredients.

Once again, this recipe is mostly about blending stuff together – even more so, since we won’t fry this paste at the end. So basically: add everything together and blend it until it’s smooth.

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Adding the jalapenos.

Thai chili peppers are some of my favorite hot peppers. They’re pretty easy to find at an Indian or Asian grocery; they’re much smaller than jalapenos but pack a wallop of heat.

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Adding the Thai chilis.

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Adding the cilantro.

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Adding the garlic.

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Adding the shallots.

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Adding the lemongrass.

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Adding the galangal.

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Adding the rest.

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Blend until smooth, and then you’re done!

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Red Curry Paste

Curry pastes – in particular, red and green curry pastes – are the basis of a lot of Thai cooking, so to make many of the meals in my beautiful Thai cookbook, I first had to make the curry pastes, which can be preserved for later in the refrigerator. First, the red paste – the ingredients are:

  • Onions (1/2 cup, chopped)
  • Garlic cloves (8 or so)
  • Salt (1 tsp)
  • Shrimp paste (1 tsp)
  • Cumin (1/2 tsp)
  • Cilantro stems (1 tablespoon, chopped)
  • Lemon grass (2 tablespoons)
  • Dried red jalapeno chilies (10)
  • Galangal (4 thin slices)
  • Coconut oil (3 tablespoon)
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The ingredients.

Galangal – that ginger-looking thing on the right-hand side – wasn’t easy to find. I went to an Asian market, and even they had to fetch me one from the back room. The dried red chilies might also have been difficult to find, but we happened to have a bouquet of dried hot peppers in our kitchen, which included several jalapenos.

The next step is simple: you put everything (except the oil!) into a blender and process until it’s smooth.

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Adding the onion.

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Adding the garlic.

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Adding the peppers.

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Adding the galangal.

Galangal is easy to prepare – just use it like you would ginger (i.e. trim off the outer skin). For lemon grass, you also peel away the outer layers and – well, here, this link will help (if you need it).

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Adding the lemon grass.

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Adding the cilantro.

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Adding the cumin.

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Adding the shrimp paste.

Once everything is added, run the blender! Run it for a while, until everything runs together.

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Bzzzz.

Then take everything out and add it all to a skillet with the oil, and fry the paste on medium-high heat for five minutes or so. I fried mine for longer, because I found it was helpful to add a wee bit of water in the food processing stage – if you also add water to help the medicine go down/help the blades go round, you may also want to fry the paste for a little longer. But beware! With all those hot peppers, the aroma may leave you sniffling or sneezing.

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Frying.

Eventually you’ll end up with something like this, which you can bottle up (as I did) and put in the fridge.

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For later!

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