Thai Curry Paste

Today I smash something in celebration of my new camera:

That something be thai chilli peppers!
Buy a mortar and pestle. I personally think marble is best: wood is too risky for someone like me, who uses the same pestle for grinding everything from curry powders to juniper berries for tea. At the opposite end of wood, there is the stainless steel option, which I find too sterile and …steely. Marble warms up nicely in your hand, making a satisfyingly dull thump noise.

I suggest you don’t try to attempt the recipe without the M and P; I expect it would be much more difficult to crush and mince each piece.


One mortar and pestle

1 tbsp coriander seeds
10 red Thai chillies
1 tbsp of whole ginger or galangal
salt and pepper
3 stalks of lemongrass
2 minced shallots


Grind the coriander seeds into a powder, and then add the chilli peppers. Grind until they’re smashed thoroughly and in tiny pieces. Add the lemongrass to the mortar and grind until a paste forms. Start smashing the ginger and the shallots and incorporate everything in the mortar as much as you can. When it’s adequately paste-y you are done. Use it with coconut milk and fish sauce to make a thai red curry sauce; throw in some chopped basil at the last moment.

Note: Thai chillies are brutally spicy. Maybe you want to use less in the recipe and maybe you should avoid rubbing your eyes after handling. And our gentleman readers maybe want to wait until the chillies die down before using the bathroom. Unless you don’t mind the burning sensation of pants on fire.

Grind on.