I learnt how to make this paste in a cookery course in Thailand a few years back. It does require a lot of effort, but the result is so much better than the shop bought jars of paste. I do use the jars myself of course, but sometimes if you want to make an extra special effort, this paste is amazing. Also, as this requires an amount of effort and the sourcing of ingredients that you might not have in your kitchen on a normal weekly basis, may I suggest doubling or tripling up on the recipe and batch freezing the paste. In my experience it keeps well in air tight container for a week in the fridge.
- 2 green birds eye chilis (add a third if you like it really firey)
- 1/4 cup of chopped coriander
- 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tsp lemongrass, finely chopped
- 1 tsp galangal, chopped finely (use ginger if you can't find galangal)
- Kaffir lime leaves (2 if fresh, 3 if dried)
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander stems, chopped finely
- 1 tsp shrimp paste (or 1 tsp fish sauce)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
* I found shrimp paste in an Asian specialty shop for the first time yesterday, I've always used fish sauce as a substitute prior to this. Be warned, the shrimp paste smell is foul, more than foul. Its stored in air tight container currently.
- Heat pan on medium heat and add the coriander seeds, cumin, star anise, peppercorns, tossing occasionally until they give off a fragrant smell. Careful that they don't burn, this can happen in the blink of an eye.
- Put them into a pestle and mortar and pound to a fine powder with the salt.
- Add the garlic, shallots, chilies and coriander leaves. Pound to a smooth paste
- Add the lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and coriander stems. Pound again until smooth.
- Add the shrimp paste (or fish sauce) and pound again to incorporate all the ingredients.