Green Thai Curry Paste

This green Thai curry paste is made with fresh chilies, herbs and roots. Traditionally, a dozen or more green chili peppers, along with other raw ingredients, are hand pounded with a mortar and pestle until a paste is formed. The green peppers, usually regular chili or bird’s eye Thai chili or a mix of both, give the paste its green colour.

In this recipe, I only used four hot peppers and removed the seeds and spine. I recommend a range of 4 to 6 green chili peppers, but if you prefer extra spicy, then use more chilies and keep the seeds and spine. Bear in mind that a milder paste gives the cook the option to adjust the spiciness of a recipe by adding additional peppers. To enhance the taste, texture and greenness of the paste, I added a handful of basil leaves.

Despite a few tweaks I made to the ingredients, the result is a full-flavoured Thai curry paste. I used the following Thai ingredients: kaffir lime; kaffir leaf; coriander roots; galangal root; and lemongrass stalks.

Should you want to make the paste but can’t find some of the ingredients, I included in the ingredient section below foods that can be used as substitutes. However, I recommend that you try to adhere to as many authentic ingredients as possible, particularly the galangal, lemongrass and coriander roots. What you can’t find in a supermarket, you will most likely find in an Asian food store.

Here are the ingredients that I used:

For a savoury-salty flavour, most traditional Thai recipes add fish or shrimp sauce. If you prefer a plant-based paste, you can substitute the shrimp or fish sauce with miso paste, soy or tamari sauce.

Miso paste is available in many supermarkets and organic food stores. Miso is a thick paste made from soybeans that have been fermented with salt and koji spores. Here’s a close-up of the paste that I used:

Making your curry paste will result in a less smooth or fine paste than the kind you buy in a store. On the other hand, you make up for it in flavour, freshness and aroma.

Pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle will give you a more authentic and flavourful paste, although this can be time-consuming. A food processor is a quick and easy alternative method that also gives excellent results.

Soon, I will post a recipe that I made with the paste.


Green Thai Curry Paste

Makes 10-12 tablespoons

Ingredients

  • 4-6 green chili peppers (regular or bird’s eye), seeds and spine removed
  • 5 garlic buds
  • 6 coriander (cilantro) roots with parts of stems (or a bunch of coriander leaves with stems)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, chopped (or grated zest from one lemon)
  • One handful fresh basil leaves (sweet Thai basil or regular basil)
  • Outer peel slivers and juice of 1 kaffir lime (or peel/juice of 1 green lime)
  • 1 large kaffir leaf (or grated zest of 1/2 lime + 1 bay leaf + 1/4 tsp of thyme)
  • 1 thumb-size chunk of galangal root, chopped (or ginger root)
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots (about 2 tbsps in total), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) coriander seeds (or ground)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or ground)
  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) white pepper corn (or ground)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, or more to create a paste.
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • Optional: 1 tbsp miso paste or soy or tamari sauce*

*Omit salt if adding miso paste or soy or tamari sauce.

Procedure

On stovetop, in a dry hot skillet, toast pepper corn, coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Put toasted spices in a mortar and crush with pestle. (Omit this part if using ground spices).

Put chilies, garlic, coriander, lemongrass, basil, kaffir peel, juice and leaf, galangal, shallot(s) and spices in the bowl of food processor. Pulse, stopping to scrape sides, until finely chopped.

Add vegetable oil and miso paste. Pulse, stopping to scrape sides, until mixture turns into a thick paste.

Alternatively, for a more authentic Thai paste, you can transfer the finely chopped mixture to a large mortar and pound to a paste with pestle.

Use the fresh curry paste immediately or store in a sealed container in refridgerator for up to a week or in freezer for 3 months.

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

3 thoughts on “Green Thai Curry Paste

  1. Wow! You have brought out the beautiful green color, and it is really a wonderful idea of using green chillies mainly for colour & flavor but not for the heat.
    Kudos for the meticulous selection of ingredients to bring out the authentic aroma & flavor, thanks for mentioning the substitutes for these ingredients.

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