Thai Roasted Chile Paste
Cooks in Southeast Asia make use of pastes that combine roasted fresh or dried chillies with a variety of other seasonings. Various commercial chilli pastes are sold, but a good chile paste is also easy to make at home.
dried red chiles
or brown sugar
In a dry wok over medium heat, fry the dried chillies, garlic, shallots, stirring often, until they darken and become dry and brittle.
When the chillies are charred on both sides, after 3 to 5 minutes, transfer them to a plate.
Leave the garlic and shallots in the pan until they darken and feel tender when pressed, 5 to 8 minutes longer, then transfer to the plate.
Split open the chillies and shake out the seeds.
Peel the garlic and shallots. Wrap the dried shrimp paste in a piece of aluminium foil, and place the packet directly on a stove top burner turned on to med-high heat.
Toast, turning once or twice, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Open the packet; if the shrimp paste crumbles, it is ready. Let cool.
In a blender, process the dried shrimp to a fine powder.
Add the chillies, garlic, shallots, dried shrimp paste, tamarind water, palm sugar or brown sugar, salt and about 1 tbpsp of the vegetable oil.
Blend until a smooth paste forms.
In a small saucepan over med heat, warm the remaining vegetable oil and add the paste, stirring frequently, until it darkens to a deep reddish dark brown and has a sticky, oil consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.
Let cool, transfer to a jar, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 year.