The Muslim cooking tradition, which traveled from India, Malaysia and Indonesia to Thailand, is most evident in this recipe, which is flavored with luxurious coconut milk, sweet spices and peanuts. Because yellow curry paste is more complex than red or green, most Thais would rather buy it than attempt to make it from scratch.
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3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, 4 inches of the tops reserved, tender inner cores only, thinly sliced crosswise
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
One 13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
4 canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons turmeric
1/3 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
Seasoning sachet made with 20 cilantro stems, 1 lime leaf, 1 red Thai chile and the reserved lemongrass tops, tied with string
How to Make It
In a food processor, combine the fish sauce with the thinly sliced lemongrass and the shallots, garlic, sugar and curry powder; process to a fine paste.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat until softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, turmeric and the spice paste and bring to a boil. Add the seasoning sachet and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pull out and discard the sachet. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender. Add the peanuts and blend to a puree. Season with salt.
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