It seems like such a chore to make pastes from scratch; surely only a fool would do so when you can buy such good ones in the supermarket?!
There are so many reasons why making your own pastes is so much better than buying them:-
- You know EXACTLY what goes in them. Next time you pick up a jar of paste, take a look at the ingredient list, how many of them do you know? Cos if its not all of them, should you really be eating it?
- It is so much CHEAPER. It might not seem it, when you buy the ingredients individually, but remember, the quantities you buy them in – ie a whole bulb of garlic, will make 10 times the amount of paste of one shop bought jar.
- Making your own at home, eliminates the need for excess packaging making it exceptionally more environmentally friendly.
- And finally, they taste SO much better. Which surely is reason enough in itself?
When it comes to making in bulk, storage come sometimes be an issue as freshly made products don’t often last as long as shop bought – that’s cos of all those preservatives you’ll be avoiding! However, it’s easy to portion out the batch in to smaller amounts, by freezing in to ice cubes trays. Once solid, you can remove them from the tray and keep them frozen in a Ziploc bag making it easy to grab a couple whenever you need. This method also works for pesto, stocks, sauces, pretty much anything really and 100% beats throwing it away.
Here’s a couple of my favourite paste recipes for you to try, which will hopefully save you a few coins at the checkout. Both of the recipes below are naturally gluten free and are suitable for vegans; please be aware that not all supermarket pastes are vegetarian or vegan as they tend to include shrimp paste or fish sauce.
In both of these recipes, you can increase or decrease any of the ingredients, depening on personal taste, for example, I love coriander so always put in extra. Try not to change it too much though, as the flavours might become over powering! Each recipe makes enough for 1 curry, but you always make in bulk.
Red Thai Curry Paste
2 Cloves of garlic – 2 small (or 1 large) shallots – 3 red chilli (increase or decrease this as desired) – 1 stalk of lemongrass (bashed) – thumb sized piece of ginger – 1 lime (juice & zest) – 1 teaspoon coriander seed – large handful of fresh coriander – 1 tablespoon oil (coconut, olive, sesame, nut, whichever) – salt & pepper
Put everything in a food processor and blend til smooth. (Yep that’s it)
Green Thai Curry Paste
2 Cloves of garlic – 2 small (or 1 large) shallots – 3 green chilli (increase or decrease this as desired) – 2 stalks of lemongrass (bashed) – thumb sized piece of ginger – 3 lime leaves – 1 lime (juice & zest) – 1 teaspoon coriander seed – large handful of fresh coriander – large handful fresh basil – 1 tablespoon oil (coconut, olive, sesame, nut, whichever) – salt & pepper
Method as above.
To turn either of these in to curries, gently fry off some vegetables of your choice; I like to use red peppers, green beans or mange tout & baby corn; add a meat if you’d like; chicken, prawns or fish work well; then add the paste (about half a tablespoon per person, but this is also to your personal taste and how spicy you’ve made them), then add coconut milk and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender and meat is cooked through; at this point I like to wilt in some spinach leaves too (cos I’m obsessed with spinach). Finish with fresh coriander and basil, and serve with brown rice or wholewheat noodles.
Now you know how it easy it is, I hope you try making it over faking it!