Fragrant with aromatics, spices, and herbs, Thai Yellow Curry Paste is easy to make and a delicious addition to your fast dinner pantry staples.
Sure you love Thai red curry and green curry, but what about their sister yellow curry? Just as flavorful but milder, yellow curry is full of aromatics, herbs, and spices with turmeric giving it that bright yellow glow. It has a back note of the more familiar Indian curry flavor but is exploding with the Thai flavors of fresh ginger, garlic, lemongrass and cilantro.
I started making my own curry pastes when my favorite Thai restaurant closed. I always ordered Thai Green Curry with Chicken there and was devastated when the restaurant didn’t make it. Shortly thereafter a Pei Wei opened near us (a sad commentary on the restaurant situation here when the locals are closing and the chains are growing) and I had their Thai Green Curry. It was much richer than a traditional Thai restaurant’s but it filled a void. Then they took it off their menu. I seem to have this personal curse with things I like whether it’s products, clothes, food, they always get discontinued.
At this point I decided I had to take curry into my own hands so I could have it exactly the way I wanted, any time I wanted. I started with my original favorite, green, but now I make and love them all. Even the husband likes them. They are extremely easy to make, just put everything in the food processor and process until it’s a paste, then portion (I use 4 ounce Mason jars) and freeze. Anytime I can pull out a perfect size portion for a dinner for four and have a delicious coconut curry on the table in minutes.
If worse comes to worst (or worst comes to worst, evidently you can say it both ways) you can use store bought curry paste. Almost every grocery store carries at least the Thai Kitchen brand which doesn’t have any artificial ingredients or preservatives. When substituting there is a huge reduction in amount though, it’s ½ cup homemade or 2 tablespoons store bought. You will only find red and green at regular stores. At least in the US, you will need to go to an Asian market or Amazon for yellow curry or live somewhere cool like Seattle where the Central Market has a HUGE Asian section.
Yellow Curry Paste is perfect for a coconut curry with more delicately flavored proteins like shrimp, chicken, tofu or a hearty vegetable combination of potatoes, cauliflower and garbanzos.
Need an even faster dinner? Have Thai Red Curry Grilled Chicken on the table in under 10 minutes.
Thai Yellow Curry Paste
- 2 shallots peeled and cut into 1” pieces
- 20 garlic cloves
- 3 ” piece of ginger peeled and cut into 1” pieces
- 10 Thai red chiles –OR- chile de arbol
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves and stems
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 ½ tablespoons salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper –OR- black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce –OR- 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
- Optional because it’s hard to find: 3” galangal peeled and cut into 1” pieces –OR- 2 tablespoons ground, dried galangal
- Cut off the bottom inch of the lemongrass and peel off the tough outer woody leaves. You’ll see the tender pale yellow leaves and that’s what you want. Trim off the top where the leaves get tough. Chop up the pale yellow leaves and put them with everything else in the food processor.
- Process until a paste forms, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as necessary.
- Keeps in the fridge for a week and freezes indefinitely in ½ cup portions.
Fish sauce is strong and shrimp paste makes fish sauce seem like water so if they’re new to you, smell it and cut back on the amount if you want.
You can substitute 1 tablespoon of curry powder for the cumin/cinnamon/coriander.
For a deeper flavor you can wrap the ginger, 1 whole head of garlic instead of cloves, and shallots in foil and roast them before adding to the food processor. Just blend up the whole garlic, no need to peel.
Anything can be added, subtracted, or substituted; it just depends on how you like it!