Sunday, 4 July 2010

Cooking: Thai Green Curry Paste

This recipe was taken from my recent cookery class at Sailors Thai, the famous Sydney restaurant originally opened by David Thompson. The recipes and techniques are very similar to those found in the books Thai Food and Thai Street Food.

Obtaining the ingredients for this recipe is going to be easier if you live close to a Thai supermarket. I can strongly recommend both Mae Cheng and Thai Pathong on Campbell St in Sydney. Other recipes in this mini-series:
- Thai Beef Salad

- Thai fish salad
- Thai Green Curry
- Thai coconut milk chronicles

I've made my own curry paste a couple of times before, but they have been nothing like the recipe we were given at Sailors Thai. It was really good to discuss the ingredients, where to get them and which brands to look out for. This gave me a lot more confidence to tackle the curry at home.

Traditionally you'd make a Thai curry paste by pounding it relentlessly in a pestle and mortar. At the restaurant they use a (meat) mincer as they make such large quantities, progressively passing the paste through smaller settings. I went for a combination of a pestle & mortar and a food processor which resulted in a smooth paste. There is nothing worse than a woody curry paste, so get the freshest ingredients possible.

This recipe makes double the amount of paste you will need for the curry. It will keep in the fridge for two weeks in an air tight container.

- 10 scud chillies
- 8 long green chillies-deseeded
- 50g red onion
- 50g garlic
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 2 tbsp galangal
- 1 tbsp coriander root
- 1 tbsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp grachai (similar to wild ginger and comes in a jar from Thai supermarkets)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp roasted gapi / shrimp paste
- 2 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tbsp roasted coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds

1.  The first step is to roast the shrimp paste. Wrap 2 tsp of shrimp paste and roast on the BBQ for 5 mins on each side. While roasting the shrimp paste gives off a very strong smell, so I'd recommend doing it outside rather than using your grill indoors. Once roasted leave to cool.

2.  Toast the spices one after the other in a dry plan. Once they are toasted place in a pestle and mortar.

3.  Chop / prepare all of the other ingredients and place them in the pestle and mortar. I chopped them all as small as possible to make the pounding easier.

4.  Then pound for your life! Beware that bits of chilli will flying around, you wouldn't want one to get any your eye. I also learnt fresh tumeric stains virtually anything.

5.  After 10mins of pounding transfer to a food processor. Process until you get a fine paste. You might need to add some water to form a paste. Add as little water as possible (I added about 2 tbsp).

You now have a curry paste to use for the curry. Place in an air tight container and store in the fridge until needed. It should last for two weeks in the fridge.

UPDATE: Having made this paste a few times, cutting down on the amount of pounding and using a food processor is definitely the practical option. However, the food processor doesn't get the coriander and cumin seeds fine enough, so I'd still recommend grinding these in the pestle and mortar still or using a coffee grinder.


  1. I've never actually made a Thai curry paste as I have them in bought tubs in the fridge. Though I don't hesitate in making an Indian curry from scratch, without the help of a premade paste. Go figure!

  2. I haven't had thai food in sooo long. Every time i want to have thai for dinner my friends are always like "nooo not thai!" or "i had that last week" =( bOOo.

  3. Making your own curry paste is so rewarding! Especially when one batch yields enough for a few uses =)