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Authentic Thai Red Curry Paste Recipe (พริกแกงเผ็ด Prik Gaeng Ped)

Pastes are one of the foundational component of Thai cuisine, used as the base for many Thai soups, curries, and stir fry dishes. This is a recipe for an authentic version of Thai red curry paste (พริกแกงเผ็ด prik gaeng ped) which can be used to cook a number of different dishes. I like to prepare my curry paste using a Thai mortar and pestle, but alternatively you could use a food processor or a blender to speed up the process. Take the time to make your own Thai curry paste, and you'll be impressed by the fresh fragrant flavors. Read the full recipe here.

Author: Mark Wiens (Eating Thai Food) Recipe type: Thai curry paste Cuisine: Thai Serves: About 8 - 10 tablespoons of paste


  • 3 teaspoons white pepper corns

  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

  • 8 dry red spur chilies (soaked in water for about 10 minutes to soften them)

  • 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

  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced coriander roots

  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced galangal

  • Skin of ½ kaffir lime

  • ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste


The best (and most strenuous) way to make Thai curry pastes is using a mortar and pestle (known in Thai as a krok). However, if you don’t have one, or if you want to save time and elbow grease, you can use a blender or food processor to make this red curry paste recipe.

  1. First we’re going to pound the dry ingredients. Add 3 teaspoons of white pepper corns to your mortar and pound it until it’s a fine powder.

  2. 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.

  1. Take 8 dry spur chilies (prik chee fa haeng), soak them in water for a few minutes to rehydrate them, then drain the chilies. Cut off their stems, and you can then chop them into small centimeter pieces. Some people take out the seeds to make their red curry paste less spicy, but in my opinion you’ve got to keep the seeds.

  2. 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, and it’s starting to looks almost tomatoey.

  3. Step back over to your chopping board and peel about 10 - 14 cloves of garlic. I used a type of Thai garlic, which is small and extra pungent variety, but using regular garlic will work fine too. If the cloves are really big, use about 8.

  4. Next peel 5 small shallots (Thai shallots are really small, about the size of a grape), so if you have big shallots you might need just 2 or 3. Chop them into small pieces.

  5. Take 1 stalk of lemongrass, pull off and discard the outermost leaf, and then slice it from the bottom into small slivers. You want enough for 1 tablespoon.

  6. 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.

  7. Take your galangal, 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.

  8. 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. I used the skin from about ½ of the kaffir lime.

  9. Toss all of those ingredients into the already pounded chilies.

  10. Pound and pound and pound 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).

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

Notes It takes some work, but the end result of this fresh Thai red curry paste will not disappoint your taste buds. Once you taste the flavors of a curry paste you made yourself, you won't go back to using it from a can - it's such a fresh and amazing blend of flavors.

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