Thai Red Curry Paste

· 1 shallot OR 1/4 cup purple onion, chopped
· 1 stalk lemongrass, minced (see instructions below) OR 3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
· 1-2 red chilies, OR 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 2-3 tsp. Thai chili sauce
· 4 cloves garlic
· 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced
· 2 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
· 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
· 1 tsp. ground coriander
· 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper (available in the spice aisle)
· 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, OR for vegetarian: 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, plus salt to taste
· 1 tsp. shrimp paste, OR for vegetarians: 1 Tbsp. Golden Mountain Sauce, both available at Asian stores
· 1 tsp. sugar
· 1+1/2 to 2 Tbsp. chili powder
· 1/4 can thick coconut milk (or just enough to keep the blades turning) - reserve remaining for cooking the curry
· 2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
· Optional: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (OR add 1 cinnamon stick to your curry pot)

1. For complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process well to create a fragrant Thai red curry paste. Note that it will taste very strong at this point, but will mellow when you add your ingredients plus remaining coconut milk.
3. To use immediately, fry the paste in a little oil to release the fragrance before adding your choice of meat, tofu, wheat gluten, or vegetables.
4. Add remaining can of coconut milk to create the curry sauce. If more sauce is desired, add some good-tasting chicken/vegetable stock.
5. Include leftover pieces of lemongrass (upper part of the stalk) to the curry as you cook it - this will add more flavor. You can also add a cinnamon stick and 2-3 whole kaffir lime leaves if desired (available fresh or frozen at Asian stores). For even more flavor, add 1/2 tsp. more shrimp paste or a little more Golden Mountain Sauce if vegetarian.
6. Before serving, always do a taste test. If not salty or flavorful enough, add more fish sauce or salt. If too salty, add another squeeze of lime juice. If too sour, add a little more sugar. If too spicy, add more coconut milk.
7. When serving your curry, sprinkle over a handful of fresh coriander/cilantro and/or basil, and ENJOY!

About Chili Powder: Since I can't get Thai chili powder where I live, I always use the chili powder from my local supermarket. Although Mexican in origin, I find it works wonderfully well for this and other Thai recipes, as the chilies are roasted first before being blended into powder. If using Thai or Asian chili powder, be sure to reduce the amount to a teaspoon or two rather than tablespoons, or it will be far too spicy.To Store Paste: Place in an airtight jar or other container in the refrigerator for up to 1.5 weeks; freeze thereafter.

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