Thai green curry paste or, some like it hot

This curry paste is hot and spicy, no two ways about it. ‘Some Like It Hot’ is also the title of the 1959 gender-bending farcical movie starring the luminous Marilyn Monroe alongside the actors Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis masquerading as slightly less than easy-on-the-eye women.

Recently, I was attempting to explain to our twelve year old lad, how it would be great if males found words other than ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’ to describe the appearance of a woman. Intrinsically, I was stating that these words can objectify women. (He hadn’t actually used those words but we heard them on a television show and I couldn’t resist an opportunity to rant impart my wisdom to my offspring.)

He thought for a moment and asked ‘But why is it OK if a woman sees a man and calls him chunky?’ This stopped me in my tracks, I looked at him. ‘Do you think you might mean hunky’? ‘Well’ he replied, ‘I knew it was ‘unky’ with something at the start’.

Many eons ago, before I had children to amuse me, many happy hours were spent traversing through Melbourne’s Asian groceries and Indian spice shops. All in an effort to source the more exotic ingredients required for blending and making my own curry pastes and curry powders. My senses were overwhelmed with citrusy lemongrass, stinky shrimp paste, the vivid colours of green and red chillies, peppery galangal, earthy turmeric, too many dried spices to list and the floral polarising scent of fresh coriander.

Whilst searching through some of my cookbooks recently, I happened upon The Hot and Spicy Book by Charmaine Solomon. She has been dubbed the ‘queen of Asian cooking in Australia’. This book, alongside her iconic tome, The Complete Asian Cookbook first published in 1976, were wonderful guides as I embarked upon my adventure into Asian cookery.

With progeny in tow (who are far less amusing when you have to shop with them), we set off to source the bits and bobs needed to make Solomon’s Thai Green Curry Paste. Sadly, we couldn’t find fresh or dried galangal so I used fresh ginger. As The Yak is vegetarian, the best substitute I have found for shrimp paste is fermented bean paste. (This is sourced from most larger Asian grocery stores.) Blend the heck out of this until it is no longer chunky and you will have a very satisfying, bloody hot, spicy, punch in the face curry paste. No objectification intended.


4 large or 8 small green chillies
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander, well washed including roots, stems and leaves
1/4 cup finely sliced lemon grass (or thinly peeled rind 1 lemon)
1 tbl chopped galangal fresh or bottled (I had to use fresh ginger as I couldn’t get my hands on any galangal, it’s not the same but it is an OK substitute)
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsps fermented bean paste (or 1 tsp dried shrimp paste if you don’t want it to be vegetarian)

Wearing rubber gloves, remove stems and roughly chop the chillies.
Put the chillies into an electric blender with the remaining ingredients and purรฉe.
Add a little water if necessary to help the blending process.
Store any paste that you don’t use in a clean, dry glass jar in the refrigerator or do what I do and divide into convenient portions and freeze. Ready to use in your next curry, soup, stir-fry or marinade.

Recipe from The Hot and Spicy Book by Charmaine Solomon, published 1995 by Mandarin a part of Reed Books Australia.


22 thoughts on “Thai green curry paste or, some like it hot

  1. That is one unky, intelligent 12 year old you have. Leave him to me in your will. Surprised you can’t find galangal, Lisa. I see them in every other fruit shop.
    Green curry is my favourite had some (take away) last night.

    • He he… Thanks Mary. ๐Ÿค— I was looking in Asian groceries as that’s where I have always got it before but not this time. I didn’t even think to check the fruit n veg! Will next time though.

  2. … and some are wusses, and need it a little less, um assertive! The best non-objectifying male-about-female comment I’ve had is ‘That’s a damn fine woman’. Says it all really. And I’d be happy to return the compliment ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yes, i do hear you, I have been known to remove the seeds from the chilli if they are too scorchingly hot…a damn fine human being, whatever the gender, is a pretty darned good compliment indeed. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  3. Nice idea to substitute the fermented bean paste for the terasi for strict veggos. I love the slightly stinky touch in a real curry paste. ( my kids used to gwt out the block of terasi or belachan and stick it under the nose of rheir sleeping sibling – teenage tricks). Also a great idea to freeze some too.

    • Thanks Francesca, it isn’t as good as the stinky stuff but it’s the best substitute I have thus far discovered. That’s hilarious that they did that…true teenage tricks indeed! ๐Ÿ˜‚

  4. Mmm love green curry and most commercial pastes are one dimensional. Simon Bryant mentions vegetarian belacan in his book “Vegies” available at Malay and Singaporean stores.

  5. UNKY!!! Love it! My poor fam always have to hear my rants about the objectification of women. I am so thoroughly sick of the #everydaySexism happening everywhere, all the time, that I feel like I need to teach my peeps to see it and call it out. BTW, oh yummmmmm! Homemade curry paste is oodles better than the shop bought stuff. I adore Thai curries and am trying to pass on that love to misses 9 and 11. Not much success so far…

    • Woot woot to us and our rants Mrs H, both mums to boys and girls, teaching them that language and the words we choose do matter and objectification needs to cease and desist. And cheers! Yes, they are better and like you, my kids haven’t got the Thai curry pastes taste yet. They are pretty good with Indian food, as long as it’s not too hot but I haven’t got them into a Thai curry yet either. Good luck to us!

  6. That’s some pretty chile paste! I can’t get most of the ingredients, except that I can grow lemongrass, so I’ll probably never be able to make my own, and have to rely of Thai brands of pastes. At least they’re good, but I do wish I could try yours. I only had daughters, but we’re expecting a grandson in September. I can’t wait to impart all of my wisdom on him!!!

    • Thank Mimi, you can use fresh ginger instead of galangal but maybe you can’t get shrimp paste? Ah, congrats, a new baby on the way. Being one of four girls and having two sons so really, any baby is a joy. I love my boys, they are sweet, funny, energetic and loving.

      • I can get shrimp paste, but just not the fresh ingredients. I loved having girls, even though they can be challenging, and I was happy that my first grand baby was a girl, as was my daughter! So this will be interesting. I think it’s cool that they’ll have one of each.

  7. It’s funny, the ease with which some seek out offence. In my cycling group (an all male bunch of ageing idiots) one of the group is called “Chunky”, there are two Pauls, Nice Paul and Fat Paul. I go under the nickname Papa Smurf and others are called names not fit for sharing here. I abhor the objectification to which you allude. But, we have to be let have our fun.
    Lovely paste btw.

    • Thanks P.Smurf. As you maybe are aware, much like you, us Aussies/NZ’ers love nothing more than giving each other’s nicknames and monikers that are often um, less than flattering. Nothing wrong with fun at all. Generally speaking, in my family, we all like to take the mickey and a thick skin is certainly required for survival. I guess I am more alluding to some vocabulary that the young-uns are using to describe each other and I am trying to challenge my boys to think of more descriptive words that focus on more than just a persons physical appearance. Particularly when referring to the opposite sex. Ha, am I ranting again? ๐Ÿ˜‚ Anyhoo, the curry paste is a good un! (I am intrigued how Nice Paul and Fat Paul’s name were differentiated…) Electric Rat (E.Rattus)

  8. Ooooh, I wish I could eat that. My ability to eat hot spice comes and goes according to the whims of my stomach lining. Right now, it’s verboten (even red chili flakes), but I can dream ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, I must plead guilty to objectifying men on a regular basis, but I justify it by saying that those unky fellas need a little of their own medicine!

    • Oh, that’s a bit tricky for you LM. No heat in the kitchen at all! (Well, so to speak. Wink wink.) I actually think that you have a creative mind and imaginative use of language when it comes to describing male beauty. Which is not really objectification as such, more; well, appreciation. I am trying to train my boys to be more descriptive, eloquent and deep thinking than merely using the word ‘hot.’ Of course, unky is fine. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      • Why thank you Lisa! And what a gift, to get your boys thinking about eloquent description. It will serve them well when writing love letters ๐Ÿ™‚

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