Aromatic Alchemy – The Art and Science of Pounded Curry Pastes

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Creating a curry paste is a meticulous process that requires the right mindset, dedicated time, and some basic skills. While some authors dismiss the mortar and pestle as primitive tools, I hold a contrary belief. Although using a mortar and pestle requires effort, and it is unquestionably an ancient – almost primordial – method, curry pastes made with a mortar and pestle far surpass those produced with modern equipment.

Those seeking the flavors of bygone days know that there is no substitute for the old-fashioned manual pounding technique to truly unlock the essence of curry pastes. In this article, I explore the intricate aromatic and molecular transformations that occur through the stone-age art of pounding curry paste using a mortar and pestle.

This Masterclass is intended to give you, the modern Thai cook, the knowledge and tools to craft better curry pastes and the ability to have full control over flavor development in your curries, allowing you to create curries that are not only rounded, gentle and intense, but are mature and yet not overworked – and that therefore present an exquisitely complex taste.

Join me as I uncover the science behind the aromatic modifications and the intricate interactions that happen inside the mortar. I aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex world of pounded pastes, from the release of oils and essences to the impact of moisture and the effect of heat, oxidation and the enzymatic reactions that bring forth the paste’s unique flavor identity.

The Art and Science of Pounded Curry Pastes

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Ian Westcott
Ian Westcott
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