This is one of the most versatile and flavorful curry pastes found in Thai cuisine.
- 8 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded
- 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. white peppercorns
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1⁄4 cup roughly chopped cilantro (with stems)
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 tsp. fish sauce
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 holland or Fresno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers discarded, tender interior layers finely chopped
- 1 (1"-piece) ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Break the chiles de árbol into pieces, transfer to a small bowl, and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let soak until softened, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add coriander, cumin, peppercorns, and cardamom to an 8" skillet over medium heat. Toast spices, swirling constantly, until very fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer spices to a grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
Strain chiles de árbol through a sieve, reserving liquid. In a food processor, combine chiles de árbol, ground spices, cilantro, oil, fish sauce, salt, nutmeg, garlic, shallots, fresh holland chiles, lemongrass, and ginger. Purée until the paste is smooth, about 2 minutes. (Sprinkle in a tablespoon or two of reserved chile soaking water to help paste grind.) Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.