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Friday, 19 April 2013

To Paste or not to Paste?

We are spoilt when it comes to instants pastes on this side of the world.  There are instant pastes for every other local dish that one can think of, even for some that you never know exist.  Like how we laughed over one very interesting one that Mum got as a CNY gift, Concubine Chicken what?? (Psst, still no idea what Concubine Chicken taste like)

So, to paste or not to paste?  It's really hard to decide, since the temptations are really strong.  It's hard to resist convenience at a price ranging from RM4-RM7 especially if time is not on your side.   I know, I know there's the ugly side to consider too.

Ok, confession time.  I do buy them occasionally.   Can't help it , they called out to me when I passed the aisle :))  Usually those for spicy dishes which involves pounding and grinding chillies (especially dried ones).  One hard task, boy those things are pungent, making one tear and cough plus leaving you with burning sensations on your finger tips for the rest of the day!

So, this is one half cheat curry, well you might say a cheat is still a cheat :)
There's instant curry paste but only like 5 tablespoons of it, i never give complete trust to any one of them out there.  So, paste gets half the credit only.   Some extras which basically are ingredients  for a curry paste from scratch goes in there too.  Yes, I still put myself through the painful steps but it's quickly done with when the amount is a lot lesser.  

This half cheat version tasted good though.  Not an endorsement of the particular paste, just one that meets the family's liking.  I was grinning ear to ear when MIL said it was better than hers!    

Curry goes well with rice, noodles, bread or on its own.   I had wanted to eat it with some string hoppers (it was Friday and I wanted to have a variation that meets my Noodle Friday theme :)) but unfortunately it rained real heavy that evening and the Indian man who comes by on a motorbike to sell them didn't turn up that day :(   Otherwise, it would have been nice eating with hands, soaking up curry with the string hoppers, drool!  Ended up rice with curry and vege for everyone. 

Thought I would borrow this photo to show those who are not familiar with string hoppers.   They taste really good with curries, like the one below :)

Photo courtesy of Bharat Moms


  • 1kg pork ribs
  • 5 tbsp instant curry paste (I used A1 Meat Curry Sauce)
  • 4 medium size potatoes (quartered)
  • 3 tbsp kerisik (toasted and ground grated coconut)
  • 200 ml coconut milk
Addition to paste
  • 4 dried chillies
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 thumbsize piece of ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass 
  • 1 small piece of belachan (around 2 cm square, toasted)
  • 2 candle nuts
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods (use seeds only)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, bruised
  • Handful curry leaves
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • Light soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Sugar

  1. Marinate pork ribs with 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar.
  2. Combine and grind ingredients for additional paste.  A little water can be added to ease grinding.  After grinding, mix with instant paste.
  3. Shallow fry potatoes and set aside.
  4. Fry paste until fragrant and oil rises.  Add in spices (except kaffir lime leaves) and continue frying until fragrant.
  5. Add in pork ribs and mix well.  Make sure ribs are well coated with paste.
  6. Fry until pork ribs no longer reddish in color then add in thin coconut milk (Add water to 150ml coconut milk to around 600ml).  Throw in kaffir lime leaves.
  7. Add in potatoes half way through (so that potatoes will not be overcooked).
  8. Continue to simmer until ribs are tender and gravy has reduced.
  9. Add in kerisik if using followed by thick coconut milk.
  10. Season with salt according to preference.
  11. Turned off flame once it starts to boil.


Nothing wrong with using paste, I do it for convenience too. Looks great this curry of yours.

@Yan: Agreed, they are convenient to have around. :)

@Mr & Mrs P : Thank you!

I used curry paste often too when I feel lazy to cook. And I see that you used instant curry paste and yet you still adding other herbs and spices too....wwoooo......this curry with all those added ingredients makes this dish tasted more flavourful and so tasty. I am sure of it! Slurp and yum!

Haha, this shows just how much I don't cook. I was thinking "what's paste?" But this looks fantastic, I would love to try some of this!

quick and easy to cook, why not? but with your addition herbs, sure tasted super!

It's delicious, why not?
This looks delish!

I would really want to make to make my own curry paste sometime but right now ..... :D Your curry looks flavorful ! With the addition of those spices I bet it taste scrumptious !

Some of these prepared pastes are pretty good. But I don't use them because I feel like it's "cheating" but that's just me. I am not against it, don't get me wrong :)

I buy fresh curry mix from the wet market, there's an indian lady selling these, she mixes the curry ingredients according to what you wish to cook! And you get to tell her you want more or less chilli:) I think that's cool! Only cost RM5 per portion. But for fast curry, I sometimes buy the paste too, it is very delicious!

@Mel:These instant pastes can be useful to have around aren't they?

@Cathleen: Maybe because you have never taken the lazy way of using instant pastes? :)

@ Sonia: Guess it's ok to use them occasionally huh?

@Angie: Guess it's ok to use the fast and easy sometimes :)

@Anne: No doubt it's better to make your paste but sometimes...

@PH: No worries, i feel like you too about the 'cheating' part :)

@Jeannie: Cool, really cool! Wish we have one nearby too :)

hi ade, i do use curry paste, especially seafood curry paste, A1 and there's another brand from Penang, i cannot recall the brand. They taste quite similar to the type of indian curry which i like :)your half cheated version must be superb!

Most Asian ingredients are usually very costly in Australia. Ironically, a packet of ready made paste is much cheaper. I like to cook from scratch as much as possible as I believe on fresh ingredients and the real taste. However, I must admit that package paste is so much more convenient.

I like the way how you cook your curry as I think fresh stalk lemon grass, curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves are irreplaceable.


Hi, your curry look very tempting and delicious. I can have extra rice, no problem. I love curry with string hoppers too. Taste real good.
But I yet to try any instant curry paste, most time I make my own.

Have a nice week ahead.

I never heard of concubine chicken but would love to try! my mom doesn't use curry paste but whenever i cook, i do, so i don't see any problem with using :)

Hey Adeline ! Just passing by to greet you a Happy Mother's Day !!!!

Too lazy to post ? :D

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