Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thai Green Curry Paste ~ Kæng k̄heīywh̄wān thịy

We don't cook a great deal of Thai curries at home purely as the kids are not fans of this style of Asian cooking - too much coriander and chillies from memory.  But I am sure as their taste buds develop even further they will come to enjoy it.  Needless to say hubby and I really enjoy a good thai curry.  My favourite is actually a Beef Massaman Curry, which I have made before but didn't make my own curry paste - maybe that's the next one on my list to make?

Working through this list of wonderful fresh ingredients there may be some items you are familiar with or you may not. If you are lucky to have a good green grocer or well stocked supermarket you shouldn't have problems getting these ingredients.  Don't panic however as you can substitute some if you do not have access to them in your area.  Some come in paste form in jars or tubes available in supermarkets.

The Lemongrass stalk is too tough to eat on its own so has to be finely crushed or chopped.  This herb has a refreshing lemon-lime taste with a tinge of mint and ginger. It is a key ingredient in Asian cuisine, particularly Thai, used in curries, stir fries and noodles. It pairs beautifully with fish, chicken and coriander. 

Galangal comes in two different varieties.  One being Greater Galangal and the other is Lesser Galangal.  Confused yet?  They both have different tastes. Lesser Galangal has a stronger taste, described as a mix between ginger and pepper. Greater Galangal’s flavour is pungent with a lemon-like sour taste which is described as a mix between ginger and cardamom. In general Galangal’s flavour is spicy, but not as hot as ginger.  Saying this if you cannot find Galangal you can substitute it for ginger.

Thai Basil is a type of basil native to Southeast Asia. Its flavor, described as anise and licorice like and slightly spicy.  Thai basil has small, narrow leaves, purple stems, and pink-purple flowers. Once again if unavailable in your area you can use common basil.
Kaffir lime leaves and to a lesser extent, fruit rind, is an essential ingredient in Thai, Indonesian, Indian and Malaysian cuisines.   The rind is covered in small bumps and ridges which identifies them compared to the common lime variety  . Kaffir limes are generally smaller than other limes and what juice they yield is quite acidic, bitter, and strongly sour.  The rind of the fruit is slightly bitter.  The leaves have a lingering yet delicate citrus flavour. I find that the leaves are easy to find in most supermarkets and Asian grocers.  Common lime can be substituted for Kaffir Lime if juice and zest are required however common lime isn't as pungent.

Chillies come in many shapes, sizes and flavours.  They can be sweet, fruity, earthy, smoky and at times ass-burning HOT.  All chilli peppers change colour as they grow - generally green, yellow and then red.  When red they are considered to be at their sweetest.  When you remove the seeds and inner membrane of the fruit, much of the heat is taken out.  I used long green Cayenne Chilli for this recipe and I kept all the seeds in.

French Shallots are milder, sweeter flavour than the normal brown onion and are generally a lot smaller (about the size of a pickled onion).   Do not confused this with Spring Onions which are often also called Shallots.

I would presume, and I hope that I am correct, that everyone is familiar with Coriander??  Well Coriander, like most herbs, grows in soil and therefore has roots.  The roots are very flavoursome and are also used quite a lot in Asian cooking.  When you use the roots in a recipe please ensure you give them a really good rinse and the roots can contain dirt and you don't want this in your meal. 

The smell coming from just actually making the paste was amazing.  During the process of making it into a smooth paste I was imagining how good this was going to taste.  My eyes were watering a little due to the intensity of the chillies and shallots vapours in the air but it all added to the experience.

This recipe makes approximately 2 cups.  It is suitable to keep in the fridge for a week in a sealed jar or can be frozen.  I freeze most of the curry pastes we make in cooking portion sizes, in this case I will freeze it in 3 tablespoons lots.

It's actually amazing that all these wonderful ingredients can be put together and form such an intense yet tasty paste to form the base of a wonderful curry.

Thai Green Curry Paste ~  Kæng k̄heīywh̄wān thịy

Makes: 2 cups
Makes: 16 x 30 gram portions
SmartPoints per serve: 1

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 sticks of lemongrass, sliced into rings
2 inch piece of galangal or ginger, peeled and sliced, or  2 tablespoons crushed ginger
20 Thai basil leaves or basil leaves
1 bunch coriander - leaves, stems and roots
zest and juice of 1 kaffir lime or lime
10 kaffir lime leaves, vein removed and sliced
15 long green chillies, thickly sliced
8 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
6 french shallots, peeled
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt

In a dry frying pan on medium/low heat, toast the coriander, cumin and peppercorns until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, using a mortar and pestle or a mini food processor, add the coriander mix and pound/pulse until ground.

Add remaining ingredients in the mini food processor and pulse until a smooth paste forms.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

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