Thai Red Curry Paste Recipe

Red is the color of love.

I am making Prig Gang Kua (พริกแกงคั่ว). This is not “prig gang ped” which generally has some bloomed spices like cumin in it. I don’t like that many flavors in this dish so I stuck with the basic red curry recipe (พริกแกงคั่ว) which is what I have so elegantly laid out for – you – the reader, the eater and grand inquisitor of all things Thai.

Before you start diving into this, you may want to ask yourself, “just how much work do you want to put it into this today?” If you are in a hurry and rarely make curries, just skip this and buy a jar of Red Curry Paste from Mae Ploy or Thai Kitchen. It won’t be nearly as fresh and intense, but it will work.

Want the real thing? Well c’mon then and let’s start figuring out where you can buy these bits of Mother Nature.

Thai Red Curry Paste Ingredients

Makes about 2 cups of pure heaven or hell depending the the chilies.

  • 2 inch of fresh galangal (peeled and diced)
  • 2 tablespoon diced cilantro roots
  • 6 dried red chilies
  • 4 stalks diced lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoon Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • 1 1/2 cup diced shallots
  • 1/2 cup diced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoon shrimp paste (use dried shrimp for a little less saltiness)
  • 1/2 cup garlic

How to Make Thai Red Curry Paste?

This is not Curry in a Hurry. This is an authentic approach to my beloved Thai red curry paste that you can easily store and use later.

  1. To make things easier on yourself put everything in a CuisinArt first. This gets them pretty small.
  2. Dump it in a mortar and start pureéing with a pestle. Give it everything you got. It should look something similar to tomato paste.
  3. And…wait for it…you’re done. Put some in the freezer and some in the fridge.

Cilantro roots


This should be easy. Farmers markets here in NY have the coriander plant pulled straight from the hydro cups. I have also found it at Fine Fare (worse place to shop), and place like whole foods. The root has a less “soapy” taste and the water that the root holds has a very unique flavor. I love this plant and it’s thought of as one of the oldest herbs on this planet to be used in cooking. Why do I know this, ugh, this compulsion I have had with food my whole life.

Dried Red Chilies


I aim for those chili peppers that come bulk in a bag. Sometimes they are called Thai dried red chilies, sometimes Mexican chilies, and other times just “red chilies”. This is super easy to source.

Fresh Galangal


This has a very distinct flavor here. It has some pine notes to it and hold less water than a regular ginger root. You will have to visit your local China Town for this one or order it online. Don’t bother with the dried stuff. It’s not a good alternative. Again, the moisture from the real thing is important to the paste.

Fresh Lemongrass


Try and stay away from the dry thin stalks. You want the husks a little greenish still. Cut the hard bottom nob off and trim down to the fragrant whitish part. Make sure those piece are super fragrant and don’t start cutting until you are ready to make the paste. Lemon grass dries out fast.



In Thailand, shallots are sold in huge sacks. They are a major part of lots of dishes. They are tastier than scallions but not nearly as strong as a white or yellow onion for example. And since we are making a paste we don’t want or need that pungent white onion juice.

Shrimp Paste


Pretty easy to pick up. I grew comfortable with Cock Brand Shrimp Paste when I was in Thailand. I know, I know. It’s rock solid (again, ha) and I can usually pick that up along with many other brands here in NYC. Also try and look for something with 150mg of sodium or lower.

Kaffir Limes


Ah, now here is the hardest ingredient to source. If you are not in LA, NYC, SF or another major hub with China Town close buy you best bet it to buy some of these limes online. Can you substitute regular lime zest? You could, but if you have read this far into the recipe you won’t. It simply does not fit the bill, yo.

Cooking is Fun-da-mental.

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