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Red Curry Paste: Krung Kaeng Phed

  • Yield: About 1 1/4 cups


  • 20 to 30 red chiles, such as Thai chiles, depending upon taste
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup chopped, peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 2 large stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves discarded, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • Salt to taste, depending upon saltiness of shrimp paste


  • Stem the chiles, and depending upon taste, keep or discard all or a portion of the seeds (which will make the paste hotter). Place in a bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water.
  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots, ginger, and coriander seed and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process into a moist paste, stopping frequently and scraping down the sides, and adding 1 tablespoon of the chili soaking liquid or extra oil as necessary to make moist. Adjust seasoning, to taste.
  • Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. (Paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 3 months.)