Sunday, 4 March 2012

Thai-style curry paste

Those jars of Thai red or green curry paste you can pick up in any supermarket are the sort of thing it's useful to keep in the back of the larder. Gawd knows I've been bailed out of a dinner dilemma on more than one occasion by a jar of paste, some leftover cooked chicken and a carton of creamed coconut.

Fresh paste is so much nicer though, the flavours more intense, the colours brighter. And of course, you can tinker with the quantities to suit your own taste.

This takes about 5 minutes to rustle up and makes a decent quantity, with enough left over to freeze a few portions.

What you need:
3 chillies, red, green or mixed, deseeded
4 cloves garlic, peeled
About 3ins fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
3 stems fresh lemongrass
1 large or 2 small limes, halved
10 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp each of ground turmeric, ground coriander and ground cumin
1/3 tin coconut milk
Very generous handful of fresh coriander

What to do: 
Put everything into a food processor and whizz to a paste. That's it! Use in a recipe in the usual way - add it once you've fried the onions and before you add the other ingredients.

Cook's tips: 

A generous tablespoonful of this mixture is about the right quantity for one portion of curry or soup. You can keep the leftovers in a sealed jar in the fridge but you should use it up quickly in that case. I freeze it in small portions - my local curry house delivers the relishes in little plastic cartons when I order in a takeaway and they are the perfect size for this. 

You can also use the paste as a marinade for prawns or meat. Give the two about an hour to get to know each other, or marinate overnight in the fridge.