Making classic Asian recipes always depends on getting the spices right. And one of the essential additions to some of these dishes is the Thai red curry paste. This spicy mixture is not just a regular in Thai and South Asian cooking but also typical dishes. Plus, it’s a handy way to infuse tons of warmth into your recipes.
Still, you may experience times when you can’t make use of Thai red curry paste. So, it’s helpful to have an idea of the best substitutes to replace it. And these alternatives must not only offer a similar effect on your dish’s flavor but also be at arm’s reach.
What is Red Thai Curry Paste?
Thai red curry paste, also curry sauce is integral ingredient used in Thai cooking. In Thailand, it’s commonly called ‘namprikkaeng’ and combines onions and other spices with Thai red chilies. The paste looks more like a puree and includes aromatics like shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime peel. You’ll also notice flavors contributed by additions like shrimp paste and fish sauce in the mixture. Some Thai red curry paste formulas may also combine coriander, paprika, makegood lime leaves, cumin, and turmeric as spice ingredients. And all these elements are blended using neutral oil as their base.
Thai Red Curry Paste in Recipes
If you find yourself ultimately in love with many curry-based Thai dishes, then this paste is the main reason for it. Most of such recipes depend on it as the base ingredient, as it adds its complex mixture of hot, spicy, and savory flavors to the dish. Thai red curry paste is also a regular addition to many other Asian delicacies. Plus, you can also blend it into a vegetable-based recipe for that extra umami experience. And it works as a flavor infuser in stir-fry dishes and hearty dishes that include seafood or red meat. As such, you’ll find Thai red curry paste in tons of recipes around you, some of which include;
- Thai fish cakes
- Compound butter
- Scrambled eggs
- Grilled fish
- Beef burgers
- Chicken curry
- Crab cakes
- Grilled shrimp
- Rice dishes
- Grilled spicy chicken breasts
- Chicken stir-fry
Thai Red Curry Paste Substitutes
Making authentic Thai dishes is primarily possible when you have a jar of Thai red curry paste. But it’s not always around when you need it, especially if you don’t live around Asian spice stores. Plus, you may find its flavor too hot for your liking and wish for something milder. But you don’t want to trade its exciting blend of flavors in the process.
It’s soothing to know there’s a way around such problems. And you’d be thrilled to know that substitutes for Thai red curry paste are available. With them, you’ll always have a variety of options to consider for different scenarios. And you can create similar effects expected from the original ingredient.
Thai curry pastes come in different forms, with red curry pastes being the hottest. But you can still replace them with another curry paste alternative. And in this situation, the yellow curry puree is your next best thing. It’s a combination of yellow chilies with a decent amount of turmeric, among other spices. And it’s used in similar recipes as Thai curry paste, so it works as an equal substitute.
But note that yellow curry paste is less spicy than Thai red curry paste. But you can up this heat and flavor level by adding some chili flakes. You can also include a tablespoon of tomato puree if you crave the red hue of the original ingredient.
For a good amount of heat and the signature red color of Thai red curry paste, consider chili paste as an alternative. Chili paste is no different from chili powder in hotness, except that it comes in puree form. And its redness comes from the red chili peppers used to make it. But it’s much hotter than Thai red curry paste and should be used in moderation not to overwhelm the dish.
Of course, it won’t taste exactly like Thai red curry paste, but you’ll get enough heat and a similar color in your recipe. And it’s an excellent substitute for Thai red curry paste in marinades, stews, soups, toppings, and sauces.
This substitute is another option that comes from the Thai curry paste family. And it’s very similar to Thai red curry paste, as they’re both made from the same type of chili peppers. It also carries spices you’ll find in the original ingredient, so the flavor profile is almost the same. However, the main difference is that the peppers used for it are green and distinguish its color.
But you can still use green curry paste to replace Thai red curry paste in most recipes. It’s also a superb option if you’re looking to tone down the heat level of the dish. And it works as an equal substitute in most recipes, except those that depend on the color of Thai red curry paste.
Though it’s a significant ingredient in Indian cuisine, curry powder and Thai red curry paste are close. Their base curry flavors are derivative of similar spices and herbs in their mixture. Plus, they’re used the same way for curries, chilies, and many other similar recipes. The main differences, however, are their heat levels and state. As the name implies, curry powder is in powdered form instead of the pureed form of Thai red curry paste. Plus, it’s also milder in hotness and is used primarily for flavor enhancement.
But curry powder works great for infusing a rich umami flavor. And you can pick the red options, so the color of the dish remains as expected. You can use curry powder as much as you wish in any recipe that calls for Thai red curry paste. And you can also add some tomato puree if you desire more redness from its shade.
This combo makes a great last-minute resort for replacing Thai red curry paste. Garlic powder is initially included in the red curry paste, so it brings a familiar flavor. And the chili sauce adds the hotness expected from the puree and a good dose of the red hue. While garlic and chili sauce may not give you an authentic flavor, you’ll still get a decent amount of savor in the dish. But you’ll need about half of what is called for, as the chili sauce in this substitute is hotter than Thai red curry paste.
This parameter combines half tablespoons of garlic powder and red chili sauce to make one tablespoon substitute for Thai red curry paste. You can also adjust this quantity to your liking if you feel the desired heat level isn’t reached.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do Thai restaurants make their curry paste?
Not really. Most Thai restaurants develop a signature curry paste flavor by mixing different brands of curry paste. And most of these brands are premade and store-bought.
Can you substitute red curry sauce for red curry paste?
In some recipes, yes. If you’re making a marinade, dressing, or any other liquid recipe, it makes a decent substitute. But red curry sauce is spicier than Thai red curry paste, so use half of what’s called.
Where can I find curry paste?
Curry paste brands, including Thai red curry paste, are sold in grocery stores around you. And if you need one, check the aisle that displays international products or Asian cooking ingredients.
Keeping your Thai stews authentic is the main reason for needing Thai red curry paste. But it would help if you kept these substitutes in mind for times when you’re out of the ingredient. These options share similar factors and would conveniently work when swapped. So, next time you’re in a jam, don’t hesitate to grab one of them for your recipes.