Red curry paste is a basic ingredient for many preparations. Of course, good quality curry paste is widely available, but nothing can replace the unique taste of freshly pound paste. You will need a stone mortar for this.
The recipe is given for 2 people, for a medium spicy curry, according to western standards. For a milder curry, reduce the number of chilli peppers used, the other ingredients remaining unchanged.
5 dry cayenne peppers, stems and seeds removed, rehydrated for 5 minutes in hot water and then drained
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon lemongrass, chopped
1 tablespoon galangal, chopped
1 teaspoon kaffir lime zest, chopped
10 g garlic, peeled
15 g shallots, peeled
1 coriander root
1 teaspoon shrimp paste (do not add this ingredient if the curry paste is for satays).
It is not difficult to pound a curry paste, but the ingredients should be added in a specific order. Between each new group of ingredients you have to pound until the mixture is smooth. It should not be possible to distinguish one ingredient from another. Typically, for a red curry paste for 2 people you will need to pound for about 10 minutes. It is worth taking the time: if the paste is smooth, the taste will be better and the colour will be more appealing, more uniform.
1st group of ingredients: cayenne peppers and seeds (coriander, cumin, white peppercorns). The seeds are dry, so they will have an abrasive effect on the peppers.
2nd group: the "hard" ingredients: lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime.
3rd group: the "soft" ingredients: garlic, shallots and coriander root.
At the end, the shrimp paste is added.