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Panaeng Chile Paste

  • Servings: Makes about 1 cup

This basic recipe makes more than enough potent, nutty chile paste for the Duck in Coconut Curry. It's worth preparing this relatively large amount because the paste keeps for a month and it's delicious in coconut milk-based sauces, soups and stews.

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KEY: Asian, Thai, Sauces & Condiments, Fast, Make Ahead

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  • Boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 13 garlic cloves—6 coarsely chopped, 7 halved
  • 4 shallots—2 thinly sliced, 2 coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 11 large dried semi-hot chiles, such as guajillo, pasilla or New Mexico, stems and seeds discarded
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) root (See Note)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass, white bulb only (See Note)
  • 2 quarter-size slices of peeled fresh galangal
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 fresh, frozen or dried kaffir lime leaves, minced (See Note)
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

How to make this recipe

  1. In a bowl, cover the dried chiles with boiling water and let soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the chiles and coarsely chop them.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet. Add the chopped garlic and sliced shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and shallots to a plate. Add the peanuts to the skillet, reduce the heat to low and cook, shaking the pan, until toasted and browned, about 3 minutes. Add the peanuts to the plate.
  3. In a large mortar or mini-processor, grind the coriander root, lemongrass, galangal and salt to a paste. Work in the halved garlic cloves and chopped shallots. Add the soaked chiles, browned garlic mixture and lime leaves and pound to a coarse puree. Stir in the shrimp paste, cinnamon and cumin.

Make Ahead

The paste can be refrigerated for up to 1 month in a covered jar.


Coriander root, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste are available at Asian markets, well-stocked supermarkets and specialty food stores.

Published October 1996

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