Red Curry Paste -- prepared. Best tasting? Which East Bay stores?

Hi, everybody,

There are times when I don’t want to make everything from scratch, as in today when I saw a recipe for Curried Thai Collards with Crispy Shallots on The Spendid Table website.

I’d like to have a prepared red curry paste that I can keep in the frig so that I can whip up something quickly. I’ve tried several brands and found them awful – way too salty, not enough flavor, off-tasting.

Do you have recommendations of brands that are good? And stores where I can purchase this in the East Bay? I can shop at Berkeley Bowl, 99 Ranch Market, Asian food stores, etc.

Appreciate your help.

Maria Lorraine

Have you tried Mae Ploy? I made some red curry using Mae Ploy paste and it tasted pretty good to me. Some shops have a single serving pack if you want to try it out, though a small plastic tub of it is usually under $3 from what I’ve seen. It’s pretty widely available, 99 Ranch should have it.

I did try Mae Ploy and found it very salty. I purchased it after others had recommended it.

Beginning to wonder if it’s me – if all the brands are salty, or off somehow.

Thanks for weighing in.

How about Maesri brand? I love the green curry. It comes in a small can and doesn’t have any weird unrecognizable ingredients. I have had the red, but not for a long time. The green is really spicy and definitely needs coconut milk to balance it. But the flavor is really bright

That’s a good lead. Thanks. I’ll give it a try.

Alternatively, any links to a good recipe that I can keep or freeze?

There is a tiny little Thai grocery store on San Pablo in el cerrito, Roong jing jing. If you go on the weekend, they carry home made Thai curry pastes and a few ready prepared curries etc that are really good. I often get there home made sausages, sold frozen, that are delicious. They also sell things like holy basil, hard to find elsewhere during the growing season. But you have to go on weekend, there’s not much going on thru the week.

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Thanks, I hadn’t noticed the curry pastes at Roong jing jing, but I’ve enjoyed some of the the homemade prepared meals and desserts.
For the OP, all the commercial curry pastes are going to be pretty salty for preservation/food safety, so trying to find a homemade version is probably your best bet. When I took Kasma’s class we used a mixture of Mae Ploy and Mae Anong for red curry. I had purchased Mae Anong before taking the class and thought it a bit blah by itself, but the mixture of the two was good.
I’ve gotten Mae Anong at Lao Market on International Blvd in Oakland–it is less commonly available, but if you’re coming from the north it’s worth a look at places like San Pablo Supermarket, Heng Fath market, or the new incarnation of Ran Kanom, which I haven’t been to under new ownership, but when it was under construction they told me they were trying to put in more space to sell grocery products. Plus, it is convenient to 99 Ranch.

That is just the inside information I need! Thank you so much.

Can’t wait to visit there and look around.

So happy to read this.

More good leads.

Appreciate your help.

Thanks for the rec of Mae Anong, and store recommendations.

Time to go shopping.

Do local restaurants use vegetarian curry pastes, and is that the major reason why restaurant red curry is always disappointing? I just picked up Mae Ploy, and realized that, unlike Maesri, shrimp is in an ingredient.

“Always”, Hyper? I think both Les Ros and Kin Khao make their own red curry (and other pastes and jams) and they have shrimp paste in them and are pretty darn good and authentic.

BTW Mae Ploy is for when you get really desperate at home. It is not great. I brought some pastes back from Bangkok years ago and they lasted a long long time (still have some, but not red or green). So, I guess I will have to get up to Roong jing jing and lunch at the fiery excellent Laotian places in San Pablo (like Rose Garden, which also does Thai, but haven’t tried that).

I was rounding up when I said “always” :slight_smile: I’d imagine that Hawker Fair also uses shrimp paste and will try theirs next time I go. I can’t remember if I’ve had red curry at Lers Ros— I do know that it doesn’t use shrimp, at least that’s what they told me (a vegetarian friend ate it, not me)

David Thompson’s bible, Thai Cooking, indicates that shrimp paste is used in '“most curries.” Maybe Lers Ros has a special red curry paste for their “vegetarian” dish. The duck curry is excellent and complex and I can’t imagine it doesn’t have shrimp paste.

Hawker Fare is not at all shy about using shrimp paste so their red curry vermicelli noodles with chicken most likely includes it. Will try next time.

I guess most Americanized Thai places now tone down their curries as what I have had in the past few years is pretty tame. Shrimp paste and fish sauce get the ‘challenging’ designation.

Stopped in Roong Jing Jing today. On San Pablo just north of Central in El Cerrito.
I inquired and the store has the homemade curries on Saturday but none today on this Sunday, Father’s Day, but that might be because it’s Father’s Day.

We exchanged contact info and I will text the lady clerk there (sorry, I did not get her name),
and inquire when she will again have her homemade items. Especially looking for prepared curry sauces and curry paste.

Very happy to have the recommendation. I will stop back soon, and report back.

Has anyone dined at the Chinese and Thai places just a couple doors down from that?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold