พริกแกงมัสมั่น (Kaeng Massaman)
Rated 4.5 Stars from 3325 reader reviews
First published on March 19, 2016
Recipe by W. Tipsuwan
This recipe for Prik Kaeng Matsaman produces a lovely homemade style dark red curry paste that is a great starting point when you want to make Massaman Beef or other Massaman Curry dishes. You can always buy a packaged curry, but there's nothing more satisfying in Thai cooking than making your own from all the raw ingredients. Kaeng Matsaman is a southern style curry that is rich with the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, and coriander seed.
Before we start blending the ingredients, I'll toast the chilies, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. Toasting in a flat pan over low heat until slightly browned releases a lot of delicious flavors from the seeds, and give the chilies a smokey flavor.
I always use the same old frying pan for toasting, as some ingredient release oils that can stain the pan. Just start out with the heat low, put both type of seeds in together, and let them get hot. When they start to crackle and pop, they are cooking. Shake the pan so they keep moving. It will take about a minute and you'll see them getting darker. Be careful not to go too far, as they can burn easily. Remove them if you see any black spots.
Next toast the chilies in the same pan. Leave them on one side and wait until they start to puff up. Lightly browned is fine, but a few burned spots will be good and add a nice smokey flavor.
Wait for the chilies to cool, then use some scissors to cut them open and remove all the seeds.
Put the chilies, the toasted seeds, the dry spices and the salt together in a vegetable chopper or food processor. Grind them very fine.
I still use a mortar and pestle to blend all of the ingredients, and using the chopper just moves it along a lot faster.
Next we'll prepare the fresh ingredients. They are about the same no matter what kind of curry you do. What makes the difference is the dry spices that we add to them. I like to get everything cut up really fine first, as it helps with measuring the right amount. I use a grater to do the galangal root, but you can also just chop it very fine.
You'll need to grate the rind from the kaffir lime until you get about 2 teaspoons. You probably won't need the whole lime.
Lemongrass grinds up much better if you start by slicing it across into very thin little rings. Just use the bottom portion, so you may need about two stalks to get a tablespoon.
Coriander roots are very hard, so use a sharp knife to chop them just as fine as you possibly can.
Chop the garlic very fine, and cut the shallot fine enough to measure out your 3 Tablesoons.
Once again I go back to the chopper to do some of the hardest work first. Chop all the herbs until very smooth.
If you want to skip to the end you can use a food processor to make the whole thing. Just put all the chilies, dry spices, salt, fresh herbs, and the shrimp paste together and blend / mix until you have a smooth paste. The paste will be rather thick, so you will need a strong machine. But I still do this part by hand. It's great exercise and you can do some daydreaming while you do it.
First I grind and grind the herbs until they are well mashed into a smooth paste.
Next add all the dried spices and mash everything together. After it's well blended, start pounding on one side, slowly working to the other side, looking for big pieces to smash. It will usually take me about 15 minutes to do this.
Once I have it all smooth and no longer find any big pieces, I add the shrimp paste and mash it in thoroughly.
When you get done it should be very fine, but really a homemade paste done by hand will always have some rough spots. Actually, they are rather nice and add a lot of texture to a finished curry dish. A packaged curry, or those made with a food processor, produce a curry as smooth as ketchup. If yours is like that, everyone will know you didn't make it from scratch.
This recipe will make enough for 2 - 3 average curry dishes. You can keep it in the refrigerator for about a week if tightly sealed. After that it will start to sour because of the raw ingredients. I usually make curry paste in large batches and then freeze it for use later. It does surprisingly well as long as you only thaw it out one time. So put it in single use bags like this and you'll have great fresh curry paste when you need some.