Don't Waste the Paste

Leftover Thai curry pastes are a kitchen gift

Leftover curry paste
Ingalls Photography

Preparing the ingredient-packed pastes for traditional Thai curries is a labor-intensive process, so most Thai cooks grind a big batch at once to yield enough for several meals. We love having extra paste on hand; in addition to curries, the spicy, aromatic blends bring a burst of flavor to all kinds of dishes.

1 To make a fiery, herbaceous vinaigrette, we like to whisk green curry paste with fresh cilantro and basil, rice wine vinegar, a bit of palm sugar, and canola oil. Like Argentinean chimichurri, it's perfect for drizzling over flaky white fish such as halibut or cod.

2 Green curry paste is also a wonderful addition to a breakfast scramble. Sauté onions and peppers with the paste, then whisk a touch more into your beaten eggs before adding them to the skillet for a pop of color and hints of citrus and chile.

3 To accompany fried eggs, we make a quick breakfast sausage by mixing red curry paste with ground pork, garlic, and chopped cilantro, shaping it into patties that we brown in a pan. Red curry paste also imparts an herbal, gingery flavor and a peppery kick to chicken. Rub the paste under chicken skin before searing, then spread more over slightly browned pieces before finishing them in the oven to give the bird a rich red hue.

4 Use yellow curry paste for roasted vegetables like baby potatoes: Tossed with curry paste, crushed garlic cloves, and olive oil before roasting, they make an aromatic side dish to go with grilled steak or chicken. (Carrots, cauliflower florets, and Brussels sprouts work just as well.)

5 For a Thai-style noodle dish, fry shrimp, garlic, and yellow curry paste in a touch of canola oil until the shrimp are just cooked through, then add a little chicken stock or water to create a sauce. To finish, toss in cooked rice noodles or linguini, blanched vegetables, and fresh basil.