10.19.2013

Green... the New Red

No doubt you’ve had those days too: you just can't get the exact ingredients you need to make something you’ve planned. Maybe they aren't available locally, or the store was simply out of stock. Either way, you forge ahead and do the best you can with what is at hand.

And that is what happened today. I wanted to make a Thai shrimp curry and I had most of the ingredients to make my own red curry paste except the Holland pepper.

No one at the store had even heard of Holland peppers. "I can substitute a Fresno pepper," I offered. Nope. They didn't have those either. Mark grows hot, red chiles – but they are so small that it would take 100 of them to give me the right amount, so I opted for a Serrano chile - hot, but green (the Holland and Fresno varieties are red). And thus, my red Thai curry paste is green. Green... the new red.

The color really didn't matter, because the taste was great. Next week, I will have the recipe for my Thai-inspired shrimp curry that uses this spice paste, but, for now, here is the recipe for the curry paste.

~ David

Thai Red Curry Paste

8 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded

1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
seeds from 2 cardamom pods
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro (with stems)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 Holland or Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (I used Serrano)
1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layers discarded, finely chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

 

Break the chiles de árbol into pieces, transfer to a small bowl, and cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let soak until softened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add coriander, cumin, peppercorns, and cardamom seeds to an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Toast spices, swirling constantly, until very fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer spices to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside, but leave in the grinder.


Strain chiles de árbol through a sieve, reserving liquid. Add rehydrated chiles de árbol, ground spices, cilantro, oil, fish sauce, salt, nutmeg, shallots, fresh chile, lemongrass, and ginger to the ground spices. Purée in spice grinder until the paste is smooth, about 2 minutes. (Sprinkle in a tablespoon or two of reserved chile soaking water to help paste grind if needed. I didn’t need any extra liquid.) Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. It will not turn hard in the freezer – you can simply spoon out the amount you need.


Makes 6-8 tablespoons curry paste.

22 comments:

  1. This looks AMAZING. I WANT some immediately! Yum

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    1. Thanks, Kim! Wait till you see it with the shrimp!

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  2. David, now as if the title were not catchy enough, is is another attention grabbing recipe of yours - you always find the most interesting recipes, dishes you do not really see on other blogs. Delicious and wonderful things that do not only sound but certainly look fabulous - your colorful photos always make me want to run in the kitchen and start cooking or baking immeadiately. By the way, I have never prepared a Thai red (green) curry paste but I know I should, soon!
    P.S.: I keep meaning to ask you whether you are also a tea drinker (or hot chocolate only...) - I will tell you later why...
    Noch einen schönen Samstag und liebe Grüße aus Bonn, mein Freund!

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    1. Thanks, Andrea - I am really glad I am able to give recipes which aren't often seen! I hope you do try the curry paste - it is so flavorful!

      As for tea, Mark is the tea drinker, although I will drink the occasional herbal tea. Mostly, I am a cocoa man, as you surmised!

      Hast Du ein wunderbares Wochenende! (Is that close to correct?)

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  3. That looks like one hot curry paste. It's been quite some time since my last mortar & pestle pounding session, creating a curry paste. Love the colours in this post!

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    1. Thanks, John - all those colors and it turned out green! So sad!

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  4. I have store bought curry pastes, both red and green, so this is just awesome. You know how much I love making homemade condiments! And chiles are my new obsession, they're good for so many recipes. Can't wait to try this one David!

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    1. You will have a lot of fun with this. And with other curries! To me, the best part is that you can make them with no preservatives and much less salt. (And, in many cases, it helps avoid MSG, which is so prevalent in prepackaged Asian foods.) If you don't have Donna Hay's Thai cookbook, I highly recommend it! She often builds the curry paste into the recipe.

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  5. Is green the new red? heck yes it is... I must admit I am a bit of a ditherer (is that a word?) when it comes to substituting ingredients in savoury recipes, especially chilli's which I don't know that much about. Anyway, great recipe David, we eat a lot of Thai food in Australia but I confess I am very lazy when it comes to making my own curry pastes :)

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    1. And, in response to that, I am in awe of you and your ability to bake as you do. To me, savory substitutions are much easier! But that is the really nice thing about this blogosphere - sharing and learning. Let me know if you try it, Karen!

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  6. I love when this sort of thing happens -- sometimes missing ingredients inspires this sort of creativity! Delicious!

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    1. You know, Valentina, when I saw your comment, it made me wonder if Melissa's might have Holland or Fresno peppers! I should check! Still, it is fun being creative when you can't find the right ingredient!

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  7. Wow. I never heard of a Holland pepper before. You just taught me something new. Thanks!

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    1. My pleasure, Cory - now, if I could only find one for sale!

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  8. Thank you for this! I made some red curry paste a couple of weeks ago and though it was good, something was missing (could've been all the ingredients I couldn't quite source!!) I've been searching for another and what luck you left a comment on another site :)
    I will try this soon, and lucky for me, I can get Fresnos, I use them to make my Sriracha sauce.

    Thanks!

    Nazneen

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    1. Thanks, Nazneen - I hope you like this version! Please check back and let me know what you think.

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  9. What a wonderful combo of ingredient.... Looks so flavorful!!!

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  10. Another recipe John would love! I'd have to tone down the peppers...my firends say I have an "English palatte." LOL!

    And, Yes, I just used American Meunster Cheese in my Souffle.

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    1. Yes, you can definitely reduce the heat and make this a mild curry with no problem! I love the "English palate" concept - when dancing, I have been told I have "British hips"!

      Thanks for the heads up on the Muenster cheese!

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  11. Hahaa... I love that. The new red. I always assumed that Thai green and red curry pastes were similar except for the fact that the type of chilli (as the core ingredient) was a different colour. I need to do a bit more research into Thai food (my knowledge of most Asian cuisines is significantly lacking! A gaping hole in my culinary arsenal!). Your curry paste looks magnificent!

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    1. Haha - I did the same basic research and found that the colors change but so do the ingredients and the quantities of ingredients. So, in the end, you can have three green curry pastes for red, green, and yellow, and they may all look the same, but will taste very different from one another.

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