Why buy red Thai curry paste when you can easily make it fresh at home with peppers from your backyard or farmer’s market?
This past year I’ve found myself making more and more curries at home. My wife, Kara, loves coconut curry and I like dishes with a bit of a kick, so I find myself whipping up a red curry recipe a few times a month. I’ve finally nailed down the perfect recipe for authentic thai red curry paste with fresh hot peppers. It’s robust in flavor and makes all our homemade Thai food comes to life!
What Does Thai Red Curry Paste Taste Like?
This paste is spicy and has a nice citrus note with sweet flavors. It’s the best Thai red curry paste you can make at home and delivers a robust flavor profile to any of your dishes.
What Is The Secret To Making A Really Good Thai Red Curry At Home?
I think that fresh peppers makes any curry really tasty! It may be controversial, as many curries use dried red Thai chili peppers vs fresh ones. But as you know from reading my food blog here, you know I love fresh ingredients and think they (usually) always reign supreme.
Prik Gaeng Ped means “Strong Spicy Chili Pepper” in English.
Right now I’m growing chilies in my little home garden and plan on turning them into curry pastes as a base for other homemade Thai recipes. There’s something so empowering about growing your own food, in this case peppers and chilies, and then cooking with them.
Why Use Fresh Peppers vs Dried Peppers?
Even if you don’t grow anything, you can still shop peppers and chilies fresh at your local grocery store or community market. One thing that makes using fresh peppers key is being able to hand pick the hot peppers you use. Many stores will group Thai chili peppers in bunches of different colors (red, green, yellow) so you have an opportunity to handpick the colors and heat levels you are looking for. This can lead to more robust flavors.
What Is The Difference Between Green Curry Paste and Red Curry?
These two curry pastes are super similar but different because they use different chilies colors (not that the color of the curry is red or green. In fact, curries are usually all orangy brown thanks to the peppers and turmeric.)
Green curry is usually made with more mild chilies and red curry is generally the hottest pepper. But this can very based on the types of chilies used, the other ingredients (ie coconut milk mellows spice out) and the chef. For example, red chilies can be cayenne chilies or Thai chilies. The latter isn’t as spicy and they are much smaller in shape.
Dishes To Cook With Thai Red Curry Paste
You can use this Thai curry red paste in so many dishes! These are just a few of the ways we cook with the paste at home:
- Coconut Miso Curry Polenta
- Coconut Milk Curries
- Curry Soups
- Curry Noodle Sauces
- Salad Dressing
- With Seafood Dishes
Steps To Make A Curry Paste Recipe
First, I love to gather all my Thai red curry paste ingredients on a table to make sure I have everything, as this curry paste does involve quite a bit of things and I hate having to run out to the store mid-recipe.
Start by removing the stems from the red and Thai chile peppers and also the red bell peppers. Then proceed to slice them open and remove the sees and white pit. Leaving the seeds in will make your paste really spicy, so I generally take them all out so we can tolerate the dish. Kara especially prefers more mild spice levels.
Chili oil burns on the skin and in the eyes. When working with hot peppers always wear gloves and clean your knife and cutting board thoroughly to remove the oil from the peppers.
Next, chop your fresh lemongrass, garlic cloves and green onions into fine pieces. Then, grab your grater! First, peel your ginger and then grate it finely. After, move onto the lime and lemon zest. If you are using Kaffir Limes, pluck theKaffir Lime leaves and set them aside to top with a curry dish later. (It’s easy to store it in the fridge for a few days if needed.) After zesting the lime, juice it.
One of the traditional ingredients for red Thai curry is shrimp paste, which isn’t always available in stores. I’ve used fish sauce in a pinch when I can’t find shrimp paste or when I’m out. You can also omit the shrimp paste or fish sauce altogether in order to easily turn the dish vegan.
After prepping all the veggies, it’s time to make some magic! Toast the cumin seeds until they are brown. Then, add all ingredients into a saucepan, and let simmer until the peppers are soft, at least 10 minutes. I find cooking the peppers together makes better flavors. If you want, you could even put it on low and simmer for an hour to really get the flavors going. Just make sure to stir often to avoid burning.
Once the peppers are soft, transfer from pan to blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This may take longer than you think. I had to blend it for about 4 minutes solid to get the right texture. You made yourself a homemade curry paste!!
Last step is to store the curry paste for future cooking. I usually put it in a large mason jar that was a good seal on top, and it’ll last about a month.
- 4 red chiles
- 8 thai chiles (much spicier)
- Two stalks of lemongrass
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 6 green onions
- Zest and juice of 1 lime (can use Kaffir Lime zest)
- Juice 1/2 of lemon
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 4 small red bell peppers
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce or shrimp paste (can be omitted for vegan)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 3 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- Remove the stems from all the peppers (red, Thai and bell).
- slice them open and remove the sees and white pit of all the peppers.
- Chop your fresh lemongrass, garlic cloves and green onions into fine pieces.
- Zest the lemon and lime.
- Juice the lime.
- Heat your pan and toast the cumin seeds until brown.
- Add all ingredients into the saucepan, and let simmer until the peppers are soft, at least 10 minutes.
- Blend until smooth.
- Store in the fridge up to a month.
- You can swap the shrimp paste for fish sauce, or omit to make a vegan curry paste.
- Feel free to shimmer the paste for up to an hour on low heat to meld flavors even more.
I can’t wait to enjoy this Thai red chili paste recipe for many years to come! If you made it, I’d love to hear from you below, so please drop a comment.