Thai Red Curry Paste – 泰式紅咖喱 – nam prik gaeng phet

When I visited Thailand last year, I did a cooking course in Silom Thai Cooking School in Bangkok.  The Red Curry was the first item on the menu.  We learned how to prepare fresh red curry paste from local herbs and species.  You can store it in a jar with some oil and keep it in the fridge for up to a month.  It is a very handy way to prepare a quick dinner after a cold winter working day.  You can add almost anything you want and serve it with some hot steamy jasmine rice.


  • Using a stone mortar can enhance the flavour of the curry paste.  However a food processor can deliver the same result
  • It is difficult to buy all the exotic herbs.  Most Asian market carries at least 80% of the mentioned ingredients
  • Add oil to the finished paste and mix it well.  It’ll help to preserve the freshness of the paste.
Freshly made Thai Red Curry Paste
Freshly made Thai Red Curry Paste
Fresh Thai Red Curry Paste in storage jar with oil
Fresh Thai Red Curry Paste in storage jar with oil

Red curry paste (nam prik gaeng phet)

To make about 2 cups of red curry paste

10                             dried red chilies, soak in water for at least 3 hours

4                                hot chilies (smaller the hotter)

2 tablespoons           lemon grass, thick bottom third only, outer layers removed,

                                 inner part finely sliced

1 teaspoon                galangal ginger, finely grated

1 teaspoon                baby ginger

1 teaspoon                kaffir lime rind, finely sliced

2 teaspoons              shallot, sliced

3 tablespoons           garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon             coriander stem, finely chopped (use the root if you can find it)

1/2 teaspoon             roasted coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon             roasted cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon             roasted black peppercorns

1 teaspoon                shrimp paste (vegetarian just omit)




Pound everything together in a mortar using a pestle to form a fine paste or use food processor and process until smooth.

Using the mortar allows the ingredients to release their flavors better than a blender. The mortar is also granite stone which keeps the curry paste cool, enhancing the taste. Once prepared. The curry paste can be kept in a jar with a little vegetable oil. Keep in the fridge for several months.

To serve the curry, you can follow the recipe below. (Red Curry with Chicken in Coconut Milk)

However you can use it with any meat items or as a vegetarian dish with tofu.  I also use the curry paste to make a Ginger and Onion Dungeness crab dinner.


Chicken                      ½ cut to cube (boneless)

Marinade the chicken for half an hour with ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, pinch of white pepper, 1 tablespoon of cooking wine, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.

Oil                               3x tablespoons

Garlic                         1 clove (chopped)

Shallot                       1 clove (chopped)

Ginger                       1 small piece

Red curry paste          2x tablespoons

Coconut milk              2x cans

Kaffir lime leaves        6x finely chopped

Fresh hot chili             x2 finely chopped

Sweet basil                  20 leaves finely chopped

Turmeric ginger          1 teaspoon (chopped)

Fish sauce                   1 tablespoon

Palm sugar                 ½ of a piece

Tamarind paste         2x tablespoons

Yukon yellow potato    2x (cut to cube and steam for ten minutes)

Carrot                              1x (cut to cube and steam for ten minutes)

Cooking the chicken:

Put one tablespoon of oil in a hot wok, add garlic, ginger and shallot.  Stir fry quickly for five minutes and add onion. Let it cook for another two minutes.  Set aside for later use.


Put oil in wok over low heat.  Add red curry paste and stirring continuously until fragrant.  Add lime leaves, turmeric ginger, sweet basil leaves, hot pepper, and stir for a minute.  Add coconut milk.  Season to taste with fish sauce, tamarind paste and palm sugar. Reduce the sauce until thick.

Add chicken, potato and carrot to the curry sauce and stir well. Serve hot with jasmine rice

Herbs for the curry
Herbs for the curry
Herbs in mortar ready for pounding
Herbs in mortar ready for pounding
Freshly made Thai Red Curry Paste
Freshly made Thai Red Curry Paste
Fresh Thai Red Curry Paste in storage jar with oil
Fresh Thai Red Curry Paste in storage jar with oil

2 Comments Add yours

  1. the honger says:



    1. the honger says:



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