Thai Red Curry Sauce

Known as one of the most popular curry styles in Thailand, red curry sauce is made with chiles, which give it its iconic heat and bright scarlet color.


For anyone even remotely familiar with Thai food, red curry is a culinary staple with a history almost as intriguing as it is delicious. Since Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was not formally colonized during Western imperialism throughout Asia, much of its cuisine was able to remain relatively unchanged by influences brought by the European regime throughout the region. Cooking methods that have been used for centuries continued to be in use during the 19th and 20th centuries, with spice flavors remaining as potent and fragrant as ever. However, that isn't to say that Thai cuisine has not been influenced by other nations. A lot of what is now known as Thai food is a combination of indigenous Thai cuisine and fusions of Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, and Malaysian culinary customs. According to legend, Thai people learned to fry from Chinese chefs, were introduced to spices such as turmeric and cardamom by traders from India and Malaysia, and were given the chiles that give this curry its signature heat by Portuguese missionaries.

The base Thai red curry paste is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle that grinds (dried) red chiles, garlic, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, salt, makrut lime leaves, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and lemongrass. Though it is renowned for its heat, red curry sauce is easily customized according to spice preferences, making it one of the most versatile curry pastes. Besides making the classic Thai coconut-milk based red curry, the paste is also used to flavor thot man pla (fish cakes), hor mok pla (fish custard) and sai ua (grilled sausage) among many other dishes. While the uses for its base paste vary, this versatility has been a key component in keeping red curry consistently popular throughout its history. This Thai curry-inspired sauce recipe from Wolfgang Puck brings Thai flavors to your kitchen table — ready to be customized and savored in dishes such as our Thai Red-Curry Squash Soup recipe or Red Curry Chicken Kebabs with Minty Yogurt Sauce.


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  • 4 inch ginger, skin on, sliced and smashed

  • 1 large lemon grass, white part only, about 4-inch piece, smashed

  • 2 inch galangal, peeled and chopped

  • 2 dried red Thai chili

  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 2 teaspoons red Thai curry paste

  • 1/4 cup tomato concassee

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1/2 cup makrut lime leaves

  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves

  • Salt and sugar, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, add the peanut oil and stir fry the ginger, lemon grass and galangal. Cook until glossy and aromatic, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

  2. Add the Thai chili and stir-fry another 30 seconds. Add the cumin, paprika, red Thai curry paste and tomato. Cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

  3. Deglaze saucepan with coconut milk and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, add the lime juice and fish sauce. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes and reduce slightly.

  4. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Remove from heat and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and use as needed.

Serve With

Sautéed Shrimp with Thai Spiced Eggplant and Thai Red Curry Sauce.

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