January 5, 2010

Thai Curry Pastes

Wowzers, I've really been bitten by the Thai curry bug since being here, especially a fan of Green, Panang and Massaman curry.

Most curries made in Thailand actually use either Green or Red curry paste as the paste base, adding extra ingredients to give it a more unique flavour. For example, Panang curry is actually just Red curry paste with crushed peanuts. To really draw out the flavours for the paste, a pestle and mortar is an essential, grinding until the ingredients turn into a smooth paste. However, if you're wanting to avoid muscle cramp, you can always whip out the blender.

Important ingredients for fresh curry pastes include:
  • Lemongrass
  • Kaffir Lime (skin of)
  • Galangal
  • Tumeric
  • Garlic
  • Coriander seed
  • Gingseng
  • Chilli (which is dependent on curry)
Green curry

Contrary to popular belief (mine as well), Green curry paste is actually spicier than Red curry paste, as it utilises fresh chillies, as opposed to being fried for the red curry. Have a look at Green Curry with Chicken for a nice recipe number.

Red curry

As above, Red curry is actually not as spicy as it's Green relation, but doesn't mean you can't get a sweat on (mm, lovely)! If you're starting from scratch, you can just adjust the amount of paste you use to get the right spiciness you're after (in this case, more definitely = spicy!). Check out Panang curry to see how the Red curry paste is made.

Massaman curry

A favourite in Vietnam, and a good one for curry sceptics. Massaman is similar to Indian curries in that it uses a lot of the same ingredients,for example cumin, garlic and cinnamon, although is a little bit sour from the tamarind paste - but in a good way.

Panang curry (the one on the left)

Exactly the same as Red curry paste, with a good handful of peanuts thrown in. This ones a winner in my eyes - check out the recipe here.

Khaw Soi curry

Similar to yellow curry, this one is native to Northern Thailand. I haven't had the pleasure of a taste test, but if I'm going by the last four, you won't be disappointed.

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