Thai Yellow Curry Paste with Habanero Salt

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We chose Habanero Salt for its robust kick in this hot Thai yellow curry. Roasting the garlic and shallots brings out a caramelized flavor that further balances the spicy heat. Fortunately, the best part about creating your own paste is you can control the heat. We also added fresh habanero chilis; their bright orange color compliments the yellow color of the paste beautifully. Fresh or dried chilis can be used in this recipe.

We’ve provided instructions for the quick version and the slower method for this paste. Both yield delicious results.

Makes roughly 1 cup of paste.

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil for roasting
1 head garlic
2 whole shallots, peeled with ends removed
½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or ground powder)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or ground powder)
½ teaspoon whole Tellicherry peppercorns (or cracked or ground pepper)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (or ground mustard seed)
1 teaspoon curry powder
2–3 fresh or dried habanero chilis (or chilis of choice)
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 inch fresh ginger (can sub 1 tablespoon powder), peeled and roughly chopped
½ inch fresh turmeric (or 1 teaspoon powder), peeled and roughly chopped
½ teaspoon Infused Habanero Salt
1 tablespoon Bee Local West Coast Wildflower Honey (can sub brown sugar or coconut sugar)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or coconut water)
2 teaspoons fish sauce (can sub shrimp paste, soy sauce, or tamari) *optional

PROCESS

If using dried chilis, soak in boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Remove from water, remove stems and seeds and roughly chop. Set aside. If using fresh chilis, remove stems and seed, roughly chop and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice off the top of the head of garlic (about a quarter of the way down the side). Do not peel the garlic. Place head cut side up on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle the top with a little olive oil and wrap tightly. Place shallots on another sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap tightly. Place both foil packets directly on the oven rack for 45 minutes to an hour until the garlic is soft to the touch and golden brown. Let the garlic and shallots cool slightly, about 15 minutes while you prepare the spices. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze each clove out of the peel and set aside.

If using, place coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and mustard seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for about five minutes until they become fragrant, stirring often. Keep an eye out as they will burn quickly. Remove from heat and crush with a mortar and pestle until the spices have broken down into a coarse powder. Alternatively, you can place spices in a plastic bag and tap with a rolling pin or use a spice grinder. Skip this step if using powdered spices.

From here, you can continue using a mortar and pestle to combine all ingredients one by one into a smooth paste. If your mortar isn’t large enough, crush each ingredient separately and combine in a mixing bowl.

Begin by adding the curry powder, garlic, and shallots to the spices and mash until smooth. Add the chilis, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and salt, pounding between each addition. Finally, add the honey, fish sauce, and oil, and stir to combine.

Or, place crushed spices, roasted garlic, shallots, and remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste forms.

For both methods, adjust seasoning to taste and add oil or water by the teaspoon if the paste looks too dry.

Store pastes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or spoon into ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, place the cubes in a freezer-safe container and store for up to 3 months. Cubes can be used directly from the freezer when cooking or thaw in the refrigerator the night before use.

How to use:
Use the homemade pastes in any recipe that calls for Thai yellow curry paste by doubling the recipe amount or adjust amount to personal taste. Start small and add more as needed.

For a simple curry sauce heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan or wok over medium high heat. Add ¼ cup paste and stir until fragrant. Add 1 can coconut milk and ½ cup water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve over stir fried vegetables, meat, or tofu and rice.

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