I've been making green curry for years, and it always sucks (It's actually quite sad). I've followed David Thompson, and I've found recipes from other top chefs, and they're all pretty much the same, and the flavour is always very meh compared to what I get at a half-decent Thai restaurant.

The general paste recipe: (Blend or Pound)

  • galangal (1 thumb sized portion)
  • lemongrass
  • lime zest
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • coriander seeds 1 tablespoon
  • cumin seeds 1/2 tablespoon
  • bird-eye peppers * 5
  • (shrimp paste) (I don't put this in)
  • cilantro stems

For the sauce

  • Good coconut milk (Arroy-D or Savoy)
  • Thai basil
  • fish sauce
  • kaffir leaves

For the recipe: Cook coconut milk until it cracks, throw in the paste, cook until aromatic, then throw in some water, meat and vegetables, cook to desired tenderness, and when it starts to cool off, top with some shredded Thai basil. Optional add lime leaves and fish sauce.

Honestly, I feel like a crazy person. I want to say that the missing flavour is not enough birds-eye green peppers, or not enough of the basil flavour. With the peppers, I've just never been able to do more than 5. I have a pretty high tolerance for heat, but putting them in the paste and then cooking them makes this awful back of the throat heat that adds nothing to the recipe. With basil I find that the raw basil flavour is a little overpowering, but if I cook the basil at all it loses all flavour.

  • Are you actually adding in the shrimp paste?
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 22:59
  • @FuzzyChef I've added it in the past, but generally I don't. I just don't like the taste. I know it's authentic for Thai, but I feel like for the american styled green curry I'm trying to replicate, it's not so important.
    – l2silver
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 1:17
  • @FuzzyChef Just out of curiosity, when you make green curry, is it up to par with some of the better Thai restaurants?
    – l2silver
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 1:18
  • 2
    The recipes I know have you cook the paste in the pan first, then add the veggies and coconut milk. I don't know if this is what you're missing, but it might allow the shallots and garlic in the paste to caramelize a bit, which should enhance the flavor. (I'd also just add some onions and get them caramelized along with the paste, before adding the wet ingredients) But I am by no means especially knowledgeable about Thai cooking.
    – The Photon
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 1:46
  • 1
    You should edit your question to show the actual, exact recipe you use. It sounds like you’ve diverged from the listed recipe a great deal.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 7:05

2 Answers 2


It's not possible for us to know what flavor you are missing in the green curry paste; your comments in the question about basil and peppers suggest that you may have flavor sensitivities that others do not share.

That said, I compared your procedure and ingredient list against Pailin's recipe, and noted the following items in her paste which are missing in yours:

  1. Basil
  2. Cilantro stems
  3. Makrut lime zest (you're substituting regular lime zest)
  4. shrimp paste (I assume the parens mean you're omitting it)
  5. around 10 chiles

I'd guess that it's a combination of the items you're omitting that make the paste unsatisfactory, rather than any one of them. That said, shrimp paste adds a pretty significant glutamate punch to the paste, so if you're omitting that, it could be the key piece.


I think what you need is palm sugar. Essential.

  • I've used palm sugar before. The sweetness is very nice, but it's not the missing flavour
    – l2silver
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 11:55
  • Maybe white pepper then?
    – user87092
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 10:17
  • I've tried that to, I always thought it created an unpleasant throat spice
    – l2silver
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 11:30

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