Food Diary: Learning to Make Green Curry Paste in Koh Samui, Thailand

Thai Green Curry with Tofu & Eggplant

This isn’t a food blog, but I can’t resist the opportunity to share a great recipe for Thai Green Curry Paste. One of the best parts of travel is trying new foods. I finally got the opportunity to take a Thai cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts on Koh Samui.

Our lovely instructor displaying cilantro root.

The class was well organized, the teachers were super knowledgable, and I learned a lot about authentic Thai cooking (good to know stuff like which peppers are super HOT and which are not). Those of you who live on the West Coast have access to a lot of Thai food. In Portland, I think it’s probably one of the most popular ethnic restaurants. But traditional Thai food is a lot more savory than what you get at your average Thai noodle shop.

When I cook Thai food at home, I take the cheaters way out and use Mae Ploy’s Green Curry Paste. It’s good. In fact it’s REAL good. But nothing beats the bright flavors of a curry made from scratch.

Curry Paste Ingredients

Homemade Green Curry Paste (Kruang Gaeng Kiaw Waan)

6 small fresh green hot chillies
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 tsp. shallot chopped finely
1 tsp. garlic chopped finely
1 tsp. lemongrass chopped finely
1 tsp. galangal chopped finely
1/4 tsp kaffir lime peel (good luck finding this) OR 2 fresh kaffir leaves (more easily found)
1 tsp. cilantro root (the root maintains it’s flavor when dropped into a hot pot unlike the leaves)
1 tsp. shrimp paste
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. anise seeds
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns

1.) Heat the wok/pan on low heat. Add the coriander seeds, anise, cumin seeds, and black pepper stirring until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Put them in a stone mortar with salt, and grind to a powder.
2.) Add the garlic, shallots, chilies and coriander leaves. Pound to a smooth paste.
3.) Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, and coriander root. Pound again until smooth.
4.) Add the shrimp paste and pound one last time until smooth.
NOTE: if freezing for later, don’t add the shrimp paste. Add shrimp right before using (or it will stink up your curry).

Moi, posing with my Green Curry & Tofu, Spicy Glass Noodle Salad and Sweet & Sour Stir Fried Vegetables & Tofu. Yum!

For a schedule of classes at Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts, go to www.sitca.net. Classes cost 1950 Baht or about $65. Not cheap, but you’ll have a lot of food to take with you. Bon appetit!

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