Galingale Curry Paste

Galingale Curry Paste

Recently I introduced the Indonesian rhizome known as Galanga (aka Galingale) and, here, I have put together a spice blend that captures the basic character of the typical sorts of curry pastes used in South-east Asia, while show-casing the particular qualities of this exotic spice ingredient. The other aromatics I am using in this blend would be at home in both Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian curry recipes and can thus be used as a general-purpose base for a wide range of home-made curries.

Ingredient and Flavor Notes

Other common ingredients for spice pastes in this region are fermented shrimp paste, Lemon grass, and, especially in Thai cuisine, Cilantro (Coriander leaf) and Coriander Root. I am aiming for a very basic (but extendable) paste so I have kept the amount of chili to a minimum and omitted the shrimp paste. I am not fond of Cilantro (and this is more used in green rather than red Thai curry pastes, anyway) so it will not make an appearance here. I have also substituted a little lemon peel for the lemon grass as it will provide something of the flavor without the rather overly assertive ‘Citronella’ taste that lemon grass can sometimes have.

By the way, you may cut down the amount of salt I have used in this recipe to suit your taste, but a good teaspoon is in order if you plan to store the paste for any length of time.

Basic Method

Prepared Aromatic Ingredients for a Galingale Curry Paste
Prepared Aromatic Ingredients for a Galingale Curry Paste

First, toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan until they release their aromas and then grind them together in a mortar. Next, peel the ginger, galangal and garlic and chop them coarsely, and then finely chop the lemon peel.

Blending a Galingale Curry Paste
Blending a Galingale Curry Paste

Add the chopped ingredients to your food processor along with the salt and then add the oil slowly as the mixture is being processed in order to keep the blades turning and form a smooth paste. Don’t worry if some tiny pieces of chili are still visible.

Storing a finished Galingale Curry Paste
Storing a finished Galingale Curry Paste

Finally, turn the mixture out into an appropriate container for storage. If you will not be using the entire contents within a week or so, pour in enough oil to form a thin covering over the surface and prevent long-term contact with the air.

Using Galingale Curry Paste in Recipes

You should find, if you follow this recipe, that the result has a really heavenly aroma. The taste, however, will be a bit pungent and sharp in the raw state and you will probably only wish to use it in cooked preparations. Basically, just use it in any recipe that calls for Thai red curry paste, or similar blends, adjusting the quantity for the heat level and saltiness. The following illustrate some recipe ideas:

Pork Rendang Thai-Style
Pork Rendang Thai-Style

This recipe for Pork Rendang Thai-Style uses a commercial Tom Yum Paste for the flavor base. You can easily adapt the recipe to use the current Galingale Curry Paste instead.

Filipino Pork Binagoongan
Filipino Pork Binagoongan

The Filipino Pork Binagoongan is primarily flavored with the Filipino Fermented Shrimp Paste known as Bagoong Alamang. You can create an entirely different dish by substituting the shrimp paste with one quarter cup, or more of the Galingale Curry Paste.

A Panang Curry of Shrimp and Vegetable
A Panang Curry of Shrimp and Vegetable

The above pictured Panang style curry was featured in my review of the excellent Maesri Brand Curry Paste. That commercial paste is somewhat similar to the Galingale Curry Paste, but using the latter will achieve a subtle shift in taste (though you may wish to add a little extra chili paste too).

Your Recipe Card:

Galingale Curry Paste

Galingale Curry Paste is a versatile spice blend based on Galingale (aka Galanga), and enhanced with Chili, Coriander Seed, Lemon and Cumin.
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: South-East Asian
Keyword: Chili, Coriander Seed, Cumin, Galanga, Lemon
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh red Chilies;
  • 2 ” piece of fresh Galanga;
  • 2 ” piece of fresh Ginger;
  • 1 tsp. Salt;
  • 1 tbsp. Cumin Seed;
  • 1 tbsp. Coriander Seed;
  • ¼ cup Vegetable Oil;
  • 6 large Garlic cloves; and
  • 2 large strips of Lemon Peel pith removed.

Instructions

  • Briefly toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan and then grind them together.
  • Peel the ginger, galangal and garlic and chop them coarsely, and then finely chop the lemon peel.
  • Blend the chopped ingredients, dry spices, and salt together in a food processor, adding the oil slowly to form a smooth paste.
  • Transfer the mixture to an appropriate container for storage, covering the paste with a thin layer of oil to keep it for longer than a week.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!