If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, you’re certainly no stranger to red curry paste. The sauce is a key ingredient in many Thai dishes. It draws its distinctive flavor from a diverse list of ingredients, from lemongrass to chillies to coriander. Vegetarians might want to note, though, that it is made with shrimp paste. For anyone else who wants a taste of Thai food, get ready to sample this tasty sauce.

Ingredients and preparation

The core ingredients in red curry paste are dry chili pepper, shallot, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, cilantro root, peppercorn, coriander, salt, shrimp paste and kaffir lime zest. It does not take long to prepare. Most of the work involves pounding and grinding down the roughly one dozen ingredients that are needed, and mixing them into a paste.


Red curry paste is prevalent in Thai cooking. You also can find it playing a prominent role in Malaysian cooking. It is popular in Thai stir fry and chicken, pork and beef dishes, a versatility that explains why it so widely used. Chefs say it also goes especially well with soft, aromatic jasmine rice.

Red and Green and …

Red is not the only color for curry paste. The paste also comes in green, yellow and orange — or “sour” — varieties. Green is considered the hottest flavor. Yellow is more mellow, a kind of a sweet-spicy flavor, while orange serves as a watery base for fish and pork.