- 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.)