When most people think of Thai cuisine, they instantly think of the heat of chillies. Interestingly enough, it wasn't until the seventeenth century that Portuguese traders introduce the chilli to Thailand. The heat of spice is one of the four major flavour components used to create balance in Thai cookery, the others being salty, sweet and sour. Up until the introduction of chilli, pepper was used for this heat balance, as witnessed in this deliciously addictive paste. White peppercorns are chosen because they are hotter.
The paste has two main uses.
As a marinade; Rub it into joints of chicken, set aside for a few hours and then grill over hot coals to create the famous Thai street side stall dish of barbecued chicken, and
As a stir fry paste; simply heat oil in a wok, stir fry the paste for a few seconds, until it smells aromatic, then add your main ingredients. Here the possibilities are endless. Try chicken and green beans, tofu and cashew nuts or prawns (shrimp) and water spinach (ong choy). Finish with some fish sauce, sugar and basil and serve with jasmine rice. Dinner in fifteen minutes. Get to it!
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until it is a paste, or just grind it all up in a mortar and pestle. Makes enough for 1 BBQ chicken or 2-3 stir-fries. Lasts in the refrigerator, covered for 2 weeks.