Ingredients:

  • 2 X long green chillies (Phrik Chee fah)  
  • 10 small green chillies ( Phrik Ki Nuu)  
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) Lemon grass
  • 2 Tbsp TSP (30 ml) Shallots  
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic 
  • 1  Peeled bruised and cut galangal shoot  
  • 3 X Coriander roots
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Cumin powder  
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Ground white pepper  
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) Kaffir lime zest (but preferably finely shredded leaves)
  • 2 Tbsp Shrimp Paste
  • 1 tsp SALT  
 
Method :  
 
Chop the fresh herbs (quanities are for chopped amounts) then grind, starting with the hard dry ingredients and moving on to the leafy, softer ingredients, adding the shrimp paste and shallots last. Best done with a mortar and pestle, but a food processor in combination with a pestle and mortar works very well and saves fatigue and time.
 An excellent alternative is using a two stage method. Ground paste is acknowledged as superior in flavour to that prepared by electric homogenisers:

Making Thai Curry pastes.

  • Most Thai cooks will say without hesitation that a paste prepared with a pestle and mortar is quite superior in flavour to that prepared in an homogeniser.  People who enjoy Thai curries will also agree. I haven't seen any blind studies on this so for now I'll accept the premise the manually made curry pastes are superior.
  • Pastes made in a pestle and mortar is time consuming and very tiring for the new preparer. I asked Thai cooks if this was the same for them. Some were surprised with the question others smiled and said that it was all in the technique. Time is not important to the traditional cook.
  • I watched the preparation of the pastes using a mortar by the experienced cooks. Their technique is different to the naïve cook. The way they manage the pestle was different. There was little effort in the downward pound of the pestle. It was almost as if the pestle was let go for the last little whack by its momentum and weight. The pestle then was raised again, the downstroke started and released just before impact to make the pounding contact.
  • The naïve cook tended to hold onto the pestle and take it through the whole cycle. Fatigue was apparent within two to three minutes and noticeably the observation of fatigue in the upper arm and shoulder. This wasn't the case with the experienced cooks. There never seemed to be an attitude of hurry when the preparer was doing the work.
  • Two volunteers were asked to alter their technique and were instructed in the technique of the experienced cooks. The fatigue aspect noticeably improved. Not completely but certainly noticeably. There wasn't an urgent need to take a break throughout. The time preparation by an experienced cook was approx 20 minutes. Those by the novice cook about 40 minutes.
  • The next study was to try a combination of homogenizer and pestle and mortar.
  • The ingredients were placed into a small homogenizer and blended until apparently smooth. The paste was removed and examined compared to a pounded preparation. The homogenized paste appeared different. The particles noticeably were like small complete fragments, like micro-straw, the pounded paste was visibly homogeneous.
  • The homogenised paste was then transferred to a pestle and mortar and the contents pounded for about 2 minutes and examined. The paste had become homogeneous.  The taste made with a paste made in this way wasn't identified as different to that made by the standard pestle and mortar method.


 

Conclusion:
For ease, speed and convenience the pre homogenization with an electric homogenizer followed by a short manual pounding in a mortar prepared  Thai curry paste (Green and Red) without identifiable flavour difference compared to the stated superior method of wholly prepared mortar  curry pastes.


  
ROASTING THE CURRY:  
 
This is a tip that is almost invariably overlooked but is used by cooks throughout Thailand and the difference is quite amazing in the final flavour.  
 
In the wok or pan, spoon in a ladle or two of full cream coconut milk. Disperse a tablespoon of the curry paste in the coconut milk and reduce the liquid until the moisture has evaporated. You will notice that the appearance changes and the mixture gets an oily sheen and will begin to smoke. Remove it from the heat and add another ladle of the coconut milk and repeat the process. Repeat a third time.  
 
What happens is basically two things: firstly the process concentrates the flavours and solids added from the coconut milk. Secondly there is a big rise in the temperature of the contents of the paste when the moisture has evaporated. This increase in temperature alters the flavours of the paste. This process is called roasting the curry.  
 
From this stage you continue the standard process of preparing the specific green curry dish egg, chicken, beef, shrimp or mushroom.