Penang Curry Paste

Roasted peanuts impart a subtly sweet flavor to Penang curry paste. Sauces made with the paste have a noticeably peanut-y depth. In lieu of roasted peanuts, I often use freshly made peanut butter of the sort that oozes from those machines in the grocery store.

Adapted from The Big Book of Thai Curries by Vatcharin Bhumichitr.

Penang Curry Paste

About This Recipe



  • 5 large red dried chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher)
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of galangal, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, the bottom 7 inches thinly sliced
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, the bottom 7 inches thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoon cilantro roots, or 10 cilantro stalks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, or 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste


  1. 1

    Place the chilies in a small bowl with approximately 1/4 cup of hot water. Microwave the chilies in the water for 2 to 3 minutes, then let sit for 30 minutes.

  2. 2

    Place all of the ingredients in a blender or a food processor. Purée, adding a few tablespoons of water if needed to get the mixture properly blended. Pause to push down the ingredients with a spatula. Use immediately or freeze in plastic bags.

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