There are countless recipes out there for Thai red curry paste, some traditional and some more elaborate. This is my version, made to be vegan using the vegan Thai fish sauce, which I have used in a few other Southeast Asian dishes. My vegan Thai red curry paste uses it as an essential ingredient. If you don’t have any in your store cupboard, then I would wholeheartedly recommend getting yourself a bottle. It can sound off-putting for the uninitiated, but it can be used in a wide variety of Asian dishes to add a real depth of flavour (don’t worry, your meal won’t taste of fish, that’s not how this sauce works).
How to make this Vegan Thai Red Curry Paste
The most important step in this recipe is to roast the chillies, shallots and garlic before putting them in the blender. This adds real depth of flavour to the paste. You certainly can skip this step and put it all straight in the blender, but the roasting gives it something a little special.
A good quality blender is always recommended for a good, smooth consistency, but use whatever you have. You can, of course, grind up all the spices by hand with a pestle and mortar, but these days most people have some sort of blender.
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Where can I get the ingredients?
Most of these ingredients can now be found in supermarkets, including the lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal. I found recently that I could get all of these in small amounts in Sainsbury’s. I tend the stock a large amount of lime leaves, acquired from my local Asian supermarket, in the freezer, and take some out whenever I need them. The ones in Sainsbury’s will have a limited shelf life, but they are sold in small enough amounts that you can finish them off in about two dishes. You can get the vegan Thai fish sauce from Waitrose.
This vegan Thai red curry paste will keep happily in the fridge for up to a week, but you can always separate it out into portions (it will easily make 3-4 curries, depending on how intense you want the flavour) and put them in the freezer for later use. If you like a hot curry, then give this recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed.
For related dishes, try my 15 Minute Thai Lentils with Green Beans and Coconut Rice, or my Vegan Braised Tofu Thai Cakes.
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Vegan Thai Red Curry Paste
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes 3-4 curries
8 red chillies, stalks cut off but seeds kept in (discard the seeds if you prefer a milter paste)
6 shallots, peeled and halved
6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 tbsp sesame oil
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
1 inch piece galangal, peeled and chopped (you can use fresh ginger as a substitute)
1 inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
A large handful of coriander leaves, stalks removed
4 lime leaves, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tsp chilli oil
3 tsp vegan Thai fish sauce
100ml (4 fl oz) rapeseed oil, or other flavourless oil
3 tbsp tomato puree
½ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to gas 7/220C/425F.
Put the chillies, shallots and garlic in a bowl and pour over the sesame oil. Mix thoroughly, so that the oil covers everything. Transfer to a roasting tin and roast, in the middle of the oven, for 20-25 minutes, stirring about halfway through. The Chillies, shallots and garlic should be nicely browned by this point. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once sufficiently cooled, peel the garlic by cutting the root off and squeezing the cooked garlic out from the skin (the back of a knife will help you with this). Transfer everything to your blender jug.
Now put all the other ingredients into the blender also. Blend several times, until you get a smooth puree then transfer the paste to a suitable lidded storage container. Keep in the fridge until ready to use, or portion out and freeze.
Tip: making the paste the day before you intend to use it will give the flavours time to infuse and intensify.