8 cm/3 in fresh turmeric root
1 large onion or 5 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped galangal
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander roots
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons sliced lemon grass
3 tablespoons chopped fresh yellow or red chillies or 12 dried red chillies,
soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste
2 teaspoons salt
125 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup peanut oil
Scrape any tough skin off the turmeric root and chop it roughly. There should be about 4 tablespoons. Put into blender container with onion, galangal, coriander roots (well washed), garlic and lemon grass.
Adjust number of chillies according to how hot they are and the desired result. Using gloves, discard seeds and central membrane for less heat and roughly chop the chillies.
Add chillies, and if dried chillies are used, some of the water in which they soaked. Add lime juice and blend to a puree. Add coriander, cumin, peppercorns, shrimp paste and salt to blended mixture.
Heat oil in a wok and on low heat fry the paste, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Allow to cool. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)