Red curry paste is a mixture of Thai red chilies, onions and spices. Use this paste to make Thai Red curry, or a marinade for chicken, fish and red meat and for stir-fry. Red curry paste is made from dried red chiles, while green paste is made from green chiles.
A similar, but different product is Hot Curry Sauce. This spicy sauce is from South Africa and is used to spice up and flavor simple soups and stews.
Thai food has become very popular in the U.S. so the paste is readily available a well. Look for it in a well stocked grocery store (we've seen it a Walmart), most any Asian market, and of course online at Amazon: Mae Ploy Thai Red Curry Paste. A good brand to look for is Mae Ploy which makes green curry paste as well.
If you don't have red curry paste then here are your best options for substitutes:
Typical ingredients include: Fresh Lemon grass, onions, chillies, garlic, coriander, galangal, paprika, makrood lime leaves, vegetable oil, salt, shrimp paste, cumin, tumeric, lime rind, citric acid.
Yellow curry paste - traditionally served in southern Thailand, is made with yellow or red chiles, and may also contain other ingredients such as cinnamon, citrus ingredients, nutmeg, and turmeric. The sauce for curry dishes is generally created by mixing curry paste with coconut milk, fish sauce, and palm or brown sugar, which assists in thickening and providing additional flavor to the sauce being prepared.
This is a recipe for making your own red curry paste at home. The recipe is from an old Asian Time-Life cookbook.
6 each dried hot red chilies, 1 1/2 to 2" long
2 tablespoon minced shallots or scallions, white part only
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried lemon grass
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt
Under cold running water, wash the chilies and remove their stems. Brush out any seeds that cling to the skin and break the pods into small pieces.
To make red curry paste: combine the chilies, shallots (or scallions), garlic, paprika, sereh, trassi, laso, caraway, coriander, lemon peel and salt in the jar of an electric blender and blend at high speed for 20 to 30 seconds. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides of the jar and blend again until the mixture is a smooth paste. Tightly covered and refrigerated, the paste may be safely kept for a month or so.
*Note: For a hotter paste use some of the seeds from the chilies.