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. More Incredible Duck Recipes
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
13 garlic cloves6 coarsely chopped, 7 halved
4 shallots2 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 It
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.
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.
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.
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.
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