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This simple and very traditional Thai green curry paste will literally blow your mind. Once combined in a mortar and pestle it can be frozen into convenient, one tablespoon measures by freezing the paste in an ice block tray. Only ten minutes’ work to have enough quantity of this most famous of Thai curry pastes to last for 2 or 3 months? That sounds a good deal to me.
The paste, once combined with coconut milk/cream, chicken and some vegetables and 15 minutes cooking time will result in Thailand’s most famous dish, green curry with chicken, which we will be featuring on Compass & Fork tomorrow.
Vegetarian? No problem. Put some attitude into your cooking and use this paste to make the best vegetable curry you will ever taste.
Grocery Shopping in Thailand
Most people in Thailand would shop at least once a day. (Yes sometimes it is more often!) Thais love fresh ingredients. So for anything they are going to cook with, they will buy it the day they are going to use it.
To ensure freshness, most Thais would shop at a local market, not a grocery store. Markets are common throughout Thailand- you will never be too far from one and they are open from the early hours of the morning, into the evening.
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Should you find yourself not near one, there are a lot of mobile vendors happy to come to you. Check out this mobile grocery store. I don’t think I could get it all on the scooter, further more move!
In addition to fresh goods, markets sell a range of packaged and prepared foods, including pastes and sauces. Common sauces to buy from the market include chili sauce and curry pastes. However, buying a sauce from the market, is still buying homemade. You can see many of the vendors making their goods at the market, they might be roasting chilies or tomatoes, or using a mortar and pestle to pound out a paste. Often these are made on demand.
Many Thais do not “cook” at home, instead buying prepared food at the market or eating street food.
The Green Bowl- Thai Culinary Excellence
Another interesting thing we learned at the market, is Thailand has a recognition system for culinary excellence. It is awarded for a variety of things, it can be at a market, food stall (street food) or restaurant.
The symbol looks like this one on the right. I am sure the Thai writing is telling us what the dish is, but since I don’t read Thai I can’t be sure. When you see the green bowl, ask what dish they received the award for- it is guaranteed to be one of their best dishes and the locals have recognized it as being great as well.
Thai Green Curry Paste
There are plenty of prepared, Thai green curry pastes for purchase these days. But trust me on this, they won’t taste as good as this authentic Thai paste. As this Thai green curry paste is much stronger, you won’t need to use as much. And it is made from real ingredients that you can touch and feel. No preservatives or food dyes here. If you are after a milder paste buy longer green chilies or try the milder red curry paste.
All you need is a mortar and pestle (better) or food processor (not as good) and 10 minutes of your time. Once you taste the paste you will be very happy with the result and can then make your own Thai green curry whenever you feel like it.
As mentioned, you can use an ice cube tray to freeze tablespoon (or teaspoon) size servings of the Thai Green Curry Paste. Just place in the ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen remove from the try and place in a storage container in the freezer. This way you can have fresh, homemade paste when ever you want it. (This trick works with all kinds of sauces including pesto and homemade stock. It is a great way to have just the right amount handy for a recipe.)
Other Asian Dishes with Some Attitude
If you enjoy South East Asian foods containing a little spice, you might also like these:
Ema Datshi, the cheese chili, national dish of Bhutan, is delicious, simple and quick.
Try Fish Amok. It is the national dish of Cambodia and our most popular curry on Compass & Fork.
Thai Fish Cakes, made with Thai Red Curry Paste. Thai Red Paste is just as good as this Green Curry Paste. You can also find more Thai dishes here.
How about a spicy, but refreshing Asian salad? Chicken Larb from Laos and Green Papaya Salad from Vietnam both fit the bill.
Free Asian Cooking Essentials Guide
Want more information on Asian Cooking Ingredients such as those featured here? Our detailed guide covers most of the ingredients you will ever need to cook Vietnamese or Thai food. Become a subscriber and also gain free access to shopping lists for both Thailand and Vietnam so you can cook along with our recipes or just to have the basics so you can enjoy cooking these 2 great cuisines.
FREE PRINTABLE SHOPPING LIST
All the specialty ingredients you need to make the Thai recipes on Compass & Fork on one handy printable shopping list.
- 1/2 tbsp coriander, seed, whole #
- 5 peppercorns, black
- 1/2 tbsp cumin, seeds
- 1 tbsp lemongrass finely chopped #
- 1/4 tsp coriander, root chopped #
- 8 green chilies, long Asian style chopped #
- 1/2 tsp kaffir lime peel or lime peel, finely chopped
- 2 tsp galangal finely chopped #
- 1/4 tsp shrimp paste #
- 1/2 tsp salt, ground sea
- 1 tbsp garlic chopped #
- 1 tbsp shallots chopped #
- In a small frying pan, dry roast the coriander seeds, peppercorns and cumin seeds until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Put the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and bash until you have a powder.
- Add all remaining ingredients except the garlic and shallots. Bash until there is an almost smooth texture.
- Finally add the garlic and shallots and bash until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks and freeze (using ice cube trays) for up to 3 months.
# These items are described in more detail with our free, Asian Cooking Essentials Guide.
I can only imagine how great this smells and tastes! Time to break out the mortar and pestle!
The wonderful mortar and pestle. The original food processor/blender. It’s a great way of bringing out the flavors.
Green curry is my favourite!! and I like the list of ingredients for your paste (i.e. not 30 ingredients on there!) will be giving this one a go for sure
Jayne, It is pretty easy to make and when you use it! Oh! You will never go back to store bought!
I’m not sure I can get all the ingredients here to make this, but I love the Thai shopping references. I love that they can buy “homemade” sauces right at their local market. It makes such a difference when things are made in small batches with an attention to flavor instead of production schedules. I can’t wait to get to Thailand some day.
Renee, Their markets were amazing. Lots of houses don’t really have cooking facilities so they buy most of it “pre-made” to heat up or just eat out. Honestly the food is fantastic and it is so cheap! And it is good food, the whole thing was just amazing. They are obviously doing something right!
Oh my Gawd — that scooter is hysterical! I’ve never made my own green chile paste, but you’ve got me craving now! I’m going to have to do a little reconnaissance to find some ingredients, but I’m on a mission now!
Lisa, They also have a smaller version on a bicycle! And of course it is still way too much stiff to have on a bicycle. The packing and balancing skills are just amazing! Let us know how you go with the green curry!
Even though it’s a lot of work, I love the idea of shopping daily. I’m within walking distance of a few different fruit/veg shops and a butchers which means I usually make a couple of shopping trips in the week to get fresh food. The only downside is when the weather is bad because it’s always raining here.
Can’t wait to try this recipe – Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines!
Sarah, I used to think it was way to time consuming to shop everyday. Then you get used to the freshness of things and I have changed my thinking. We primarily shop at markets as the food tends to be fresher and last longer (and it’s healthier as well). What I really need is my own veggie garden but that doesn’t work so well traveling!
It’s always a pleasure to read your blog Mark! I love to make my own curry pastes (though I don’t always), but I hadn’t thought to freeze individual portions in an ice cube tray. Great tip and fabulous post!
Tamara, Yes the ice cube tray trick is great for lots of homemade things. Pesto is another great one, you can use it with some oil and make salad dressing! And thanks so much, I am glad you enjoy the blog. I really enjoy sharing food with people.
Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours
What a lovely post, and wonderful photos of Thailand. I love a good green Thai curry, I have a theory that there is no such thing as too much coriander!
Helen, You might be right on the coriander! It is amazing how many cultures use it as well! Hope you enjoy the recipe.