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Cilantro Pesto / rahk pahk chee gratiem prik thai Real Thai: Basic Recipes page 168

Make this seasoning paste and put it to work in your cooking, and you will find yourself inventing additional ways to enjoy it. Thai cooks have been pounding and mashing three elemental Asian ingredients into this humble, powerhouse paste for a very long time. Even before chili peppers appeared in Thailand’s marketplaces and gardens from the other side of the world, peppercorns played the central role in heating and intensifying flavors in everyday cooking. Thai cooks use green peppercorns freshly harvested in clusters that bring dazzling flavor to an array of dishes. They dry peppercorns and employ them in both black and white incarnations, treasuring their aromas as well as their flavors. Garlic infuses almost every savory dish, and cilantro roots bring peppercorns and garlic together into a heady mash that is combined with ground meat in mah haw (page 16) and stir-fried with bite-sized pork or plump shrimp for the irresistible dishes in the ‘gratiem-prik thai‘ genre (page 154). This makes a enough for immediate use, but I often double or triple the recipe because it’s such a pleasure and inspiration to see a jar of it when I open the refrigerator door ready to cook. I used my granite mortar-and-pestle to make this batch, scraping down the sides throughout the process. You can use a blender or mini-food processor too, adding a little water so that the texture is soft enough to move the blades and bring the ingredients together. The paste will be softer and very moist, but this will be fine for cooking; the flavor shines through wonderfully whether you go high tech or unplugged.

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