I love making things from scratch. There is such major satisfaction to gain from it, and the (unfortunately) novel bonus of knowing exactly what has gone into your food.
I made the paste (adapted from a recipe by John Torode) quite a while ago now, but haven’t got round to posting about it. It makes a lot of paste, so what I did was spoon my mixture into ice cube trays, wait for them to set, then pop them out and transfer them to freezer bags (to take up less space). Gladly, I have found the paste to be far more versatile than I originally considered it to be. To mix it with coconut milk and serve it with chicken and rice is of course, a classic, and it is delicious, but I have also served mine with new potatoes and white fish, which was equally as nice. I haven’t tried my other ideas for it yet, but I imagine it would be lovely with pasta, stirred into a mix for fish cakes or just served with a huge pile of vegetables! I would say to keep the cubes of paste in the freezer for no more than 3 months, as the intensity of flavour will reduce dramatically. I know this because I like a mild curry, so would only use 1 cube (or tablespoon to begin with, but last time I used the paste, I used 2 cubes and it was very mild indeed! Still edible of course, but not as fiery as it is supposed to be.
First I will give the recipe for the paste, then I will provide an example of a meal you could make with it 🙂
Makes approx. 750g – halve the quantities if you like, or give half to a friend. As some of the ingredients are hard to come by, I reckon it’s worth making a bit extra anyway. If you don’t have a food processor or a blender, this will be a lot of work!
- 50g coriander seeds
- 25g cumin seeds
- 1/4-1/8 tsp ground mace, or 1 whole blade of mace
- 1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
- 9 garlic cloves, chopped
- 9 shallots, chopped
- handful of coriander leaves and approx. 15 coriander roots, chopped*
- 15-20 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
- 250g galangal or fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped**
- 5 lemongrass stalks, chopped
- 5 kaffir lime leaves, crumbled slightly
- 100g shrimp paste (or fish sauce, oyster sauce or anchovy paste)
- handful basil leaves
*Substitute a handful of the chopped stems if you can’t find the roots.
**All I had in my cupboards was a small tub of sliced dried galangal (just 3g!) I used this (after first soaking in hot water for several minutes) and the result was absolutely fine, as you need much less of a herb or spice when it is dried to impart the same flavour as the amount you need to use when it is fresh. However, I have read that the most appropriate substitute for fresh galangal is to make up the majority amount with ginger, and add a little dried galangal or Szechuan peppercorns to it. The most accurate ratio I can find for fresh:dried galangal is to substitute 1 inch of fresh (approx. 1 tbsp) for 1 tsp ground dried. Unfortunately I just don’t know how many inches make up 250g galangal! Galangal is denser than ginger, and has a more peppery flavour. Of course, fresh galangal would be ideal, but it is definitely not widely available – in the UK at least. I hope this has helped in some way rather than simply increased/caused any confusion! On with the recipe!
- Heat a dry non-stick frying pan over a low heat and add the coriander and cumin seeds, mace and nutmeg. Roast until they smell amazing, then remove from the heat and grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar.
- Set up a blender or a food processor, or get ready to do a lot more pounding with the pestle and mortar.. Add all of the prepared ingredients and a good pinch of salt. Blend until the paste is smooth.
Here is a simple recipe to serve with chicken:
- 1-3 frozen cubes/fresh tbsp Thai green curry paste
- 1/2 400g can coconut milk
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- jasmine rice and veg of your choosing, to serve
- Cut the chicken into evenly sized cubes. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, then add the chicken pieces and cook for approx. 15 minutes until cooked through and juicy.
- Meanwhile, in a small frying pan or saucepan, gently heat the coconut milk. When it is warm, add the curry paste and stir until well combined. Add to the pan with the chicken and the veg when everything is ready, then serve with rice!
John Torode likes to add lots of extras to his curry like more fresh galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, palm sugar etc etc… I’m sure this would be very nice, but after taking so much time over the curry paste, I like to use it as a home-made ready meal and make a very quick dinner out of it when I’m feeling lazy. I also find the paste plenty flavourful by itself, but each to their own!