12 large dried semi-hot chiles, such as guajillo, pasilla or New Mexico,
stems and seeds discarded
5 dried hot chiles, such as Chinese or cayenne, stems and seeds discarded
1/4 cup chopped fresh lemongrass, white bulb only (See Note)
5 quarter-size slices of peeled fresh galangal, finely chopped (See Note)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
5 small shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon minced lime zest
1 tablespoon shrimp paste (See Note)
In a large bowl, cover all the chiles with boiling water and let soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop the chiles.
In a mortar or mini-processor, grind the lemongrass, galangal and peppercorns to a paste. Work in the shallots, garlic, salt, turmeric and lime zest. Add the soaked chiles and pound to a puree. Stir in the shrimp paste.
The curry paste can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Lemongrass, galangal and shrimp paste are available at Asian markets, well-stocked supermarkets and specialty food stores.