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Kaeng Khua Curry Paste (Nam Phrik Kaeng Khua)
Kaeng Khua Curry Paste is made using mild red ripe chiles and only a little kapi (shrimp paste) plus fragrant spices - lemongrass, galangal, and cilantro. When mixed with coconut milk it develops an earthy flavour, and becomes a soft rich golden colour. It is a very special curry paste, and is most often used with the delicate flavours of various types of seafood. Dishes such as Curried Mussels with Kabocha and Thai Basil are very popular using this Kaeng Khua Curry Paste as the base.
5 dried Thai chiles, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, deseeded *
1/2 tsp. coriander seed
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seed
3 tbsp. chopped shallots
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced galangal
1 Tbs chopped lemon grass
1 tsp. minced kaffir lime rind (regular lime zest can be used)
1 tsp. chopped coriander root (cilantro)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. shrimp paste (kapi) roasted on tin foil in toaster oven until fragrant
*Dried red California Chiles can be used
Cut the dried chiles length-wise to remove the seeds. Remove any tough membranes of the chiles. Add hot water to cover the chiles and soak for 30 minutes to soften.
Dry roast the coriander and cumin in a small non-stick skillet until fragrant, shaking the pan to keep the pieces from burning. Set aside and let them cool. Place cooled spices in a mortar and pound with a pestle to grind to a fine powder.
Place the lime zest, lemongrass, garlic, and galangal in the mortar and pound with a pestle to break down the fibers.
Place these ingredients into a food processor to continue to work them into a smooth paste consistency.
Pound the shallots and garlic just until crushed, add to the food processor. Now add the kapi/shrimp paste to the food processor.
Drain the chiles, but reserve the soaking water. Add the chiles to the food processor. Process until these ingredients form a very smooth paste. Stop often to add a little of the chile water and to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.
This can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for about 2-3 months.
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