How to Buy Thai Curry Paste, Plus Easy Recipes to Make with It

By: Carolyn Malcoun  |  Wednesday, March 11, 2015
We love a good Thai curry. And if you frequent Thai restaurants, you probably do too! You can put just about anything in a Thai curry, so we Test Kitchen cooks always keep curry paste on hand so we can whip up a curry with whatever we have hanging out in the fridge.
When we decided to use Thai curry paste in the March/April 2015 issue for our Market Pick column (that’s where we do four different takes on one ingredient), we in the Test Kitchen thought it would only be prudent to try as many curry pastes as we could get our hands on.
We tend to use red curry paste, which is the middle of the road in terms of heat. But you can also get yellow curry paste, which is milder than red, and green curry paste, which is hotter. Green and red get their color from chiles, the yellow from turmeric.
Most large supermarkets carry at least one brand of Thai curry paste in their Asian section. Thai Kitchen is the most widely available brand and the one we primarily use in the Test Kitchen (we analyze our recipes with it). It’s also the lowest in sodium, so you may want to adjust any added salt if you use another brand.
If you have a shellfish allergy, check the ingredient list—some curry pastes contain shrimp. We tested these recipes with multiple colors and brands, so whichever you pick will taste great.
 
We ended up tasting eight curry pastes made by three companies. We discovered that Thai Kitchen’s red curry paste is milder, while those made by Mae Ploy and Maesri are hotter and have coarser textures—you can see, feel and taste bits of shallot, galangal, chiles and garlic. We loved the galangal-forward flavor of the Maesri yellow curry and the fiery bite of the floral Mae Ploy green curry.
 
Now that you’re sold on it, what are you going to do with it? We have more than 20 recipes using Thai curry paste, but here are the ones we most recently created. All are delicious and will make an appearance on my dinner table soon!
 
Green Chicken Curry: If you’re looking for a basic Thai curry, start here. Try yellow curry paste if you’re not a fan of spicy food—it’s just as flavorful as red or green, with less heat.
 
Chicken Banh Mi Pizza: This untraditional pizza is inspired by the Vietnamese sandwich called banh mi. While you won’t find Thai curry paste on banh mi, we think it adds just the right amount of seasoning and spice to the spread for this pizza.
 
Thai Peanut Curry Noodles: Curry paste delivers a spicy kick-in-the-pants to a bowl of peanut noodles. If you haven’t tried kohlrabi yet, here’s your excuse to buy it. The bulbous vegetable is related to broccoli and Brussels sprouts, but has a more mild, sweet flavor and fabulous crunch.
 
Shrimp Kebabs with Curry-Coconut Glaze: Try this Thai shrimp skewer recipe alongside quinoa and stir-fried broccoli. Having a party? Double or triple the recipe and serve them up as an appetizer.