This homemade vegan red curry paste is totally vegetarian and packed with Thai spices. Simmer with veggies in coconut milk for a quick and easy dinner!
Also known as the hot kind. Or the hottest, rather. Thai curries are generally pretty hot. I've even done some damage with massaman curry, which is typically one of the milder ones. If you prefer the uber hot end of the hot spectrum, this is the paste for you.
My first experiences with Thai curries took place in restaurants. Not long after that, commercial prepackaged curry pastes used to make these dishes started appearing in supermarkets. They're really a great thing to have around. Mix your paste with coconut milk and throw in veggies and heat, and pretty soon you've got a quick and delicious meal. Kind of brilliant if you ask me. I quickly realized that the supermarket curry pastes left something to be desired in terms of authenticity. After making my own red curry paste, I'm left asking myself how the stuff at the store could get to be so red and have so little heat. I know what made my paste red (cliffhanger: see recipe for answer!) and it's nothing that usually comes without some serious burning at the back of the throat.
You can buy more authentic (i.e., hot) pastes in Asian markets, but watch out because most will contain something you don't want to eat if you follow a meatless regime...usually shrimp paste, fish sauce or the like.
I'm hoping today's post will ease navigation of the Thai vegetarian food world for some of you. Now you can make your own deliciously firey, vegan red curry paste. From there you're just a few cans of coconut milk and some veggies away from something as delicious as you'd get in a Thai restaurant. If that's not enough guidance for you to make dinner by, just hang in there a few days. I'm working on a recipe to help you out.
Update! Here's a few of my favorite vegan red curry recipes to try out:
Red Curry Basmati Rice & Tempeh Stuffed Acorn Squash
Red Curry Paste
- ½ tbsp. ground coriander
- ½ tbsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 15 dried red chili peppers soaked in water for 15 minutes
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 kaffir lime leaves soak in water for 15 minutes if using dried
- 1 lemongrass stalk coarsely chopped
- 1 shallot
- 1 ½ tbsp. Asian chili paste
- 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro stems
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated galangal could sub fresh ginger
Place coriander, cumin and black pepper in a dry pan over medium heat. Cook, tossing frequently, until spices become fragrant and begin to darken a bit, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
Place all ingredients, along with spices, into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
Transfer to an airtight container.
Recipe makes about ½ cup, which should be sufficient for 5-10 batches of curry, depending on batch size and potency.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or seal it up and stick it in the freezer. An ice cube tray is a great way to freeze batch sized portions, but keep in mind that you might not be able to use that ice cube tray for anything else afterwards.