Curry sauce in a small bowl

Can You Use Curry Sauce Instead Of Curry Paste?

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You are planning to make some beef curry using your favorite curry sauce. But when you open the pantry, you see you are out of curry paste! When you are about to close the pantry disappointed, you find a jar of curry sauce. But can you use curry sauce instead of curry paste in your chicken curry recipe? 

Most Thai and Indian curries are based on curry paste or curry sauce. If you run out of curry paste, you may be able to use curry sauce as an alternative based on the ingredients it has. Also, using curry sauce instead of curry paste will affect the taste of your recipe. 

In this article, I will talk about the differences between curry paste and curry sauce. It will help you to understand if you can use curry sauce as an alternative to curry paste. 

Curry Paste Vs. Curry Sauce: What’s The Difference?  

Both curry paste and curry sauce is made from various spices and herbs. Curry pastes are thicker than curry sauce. In fact, many curry sauces have curry paste as their main ingredient. 

Again, curry paste is more chili-based. All of its varieties have fresh or dried chilies. On the other hand, the ingredients of curry sauce vary, and some of them do not contain any chili or chili powder. 

To better understand the difference between Curry paste and curry sauce better, I will talk about their ingredients, varieties, and tastes. 

Curry Paste 

Curry paste is a blend of ground spices and herbs. Curry paste is one of the special ingredients of Thai cuisine. It is a little bit spicy as it is a mixture of different spices and herbs. Today, people all over the world use curry paste to boost the flavor of their food. 

You may think you need a long list of ingredients to make the curry paste. But there are also less complicated recipes. The most common ingredients in both homemade and store-bought curry paste are chilies, garlic, shallots/ onions, shrimp paste, lemongrass, and galangal. 

Also, you can add any spices that suit your taste. Many curry pastes also have turmeric, coriander, chili powder, cilantro roots, and cumin. They may also have sodium and other ingredients to add taste and color.

Normally, there are three types of curry pastes. These are red, green, and yellow curry pastes. Red curry pastes are made of different kinds of dried chilies. Green curry paste contains fresh chilies. 

Although the taste of curry paste varies, all of them have a hot and spicy taste. Red curry paste has a rich and sizzling taste. In terms of taste, many people prefer green curry paste with a balanced flavor of herbs and spices. 

The taste of yellow curry paste may vary based on the type of chili blended with turmeric. You will have a slightly sweet and heartwarming taste. Indian yellow curry paste is mostly turmeric-based. But yellow curry paste may also have coconut, hence the sweet flavor of coconut.  

Curry Sauce

There is a wide range of curry sauces. However, Thai and Indian curry sauces are the most popular ones. The Thai curry sauce is based on red curry paste. So, you will find all the ingredients of red curry paste in Thai curry sauce and some other ingredients as well. 

Indian curry sauces are based on turmeric, which has a similar taste to yellow curry paste. However, there are even variations in Indian curry sauces. Some of the Indian curry sauce recipes do not have any dried chili or chili powder. 

The most common ingredients of curry sauce are onion, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon, black paper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, tomatoes, paprika, cilantro, oil, butter, curry powder, and even flour. Among other ingredients, there can be lemongrass and galangal. 

Also, many curry sauces have coconut as an ingredient, especially some Thai curry sauces. Then the hot curry sauces have lots of red hot chilies in them. 

With the variety of ingredients, the taste of curry sauce also varies. All of them have a distinct flavor of spices and herbs. Thus, it has an earthy flavor. Because of the ingredients, curry sauces often have a red, orange, or yellow color. 

Only the ones with chilies have the spicy hot flavor. The Indian yellow curry sauce has a mild, sweet, and spicy flavor. You will also have the sweet and savory flavor in Thai curry sauce, which has coconut milk. Then again, some curry sauce has butter and wheat; hence you get a buttery taste. 

Can You Use Curry Sauce Instead Of Curry Paste?

You can use curry sauce instead of curry paste for cooking any Indian or Thai curry. But do not accept the same flavor in your dish which you are supposed to have using curry paste. 

Again, some of the ingredients match, no doubt. But the core ingredient of red curry paste and green curry paste is chilies. Then, most Thai curry paste contains fish sauce, like shrimp paste. 

Now, curry sauces such as Thai curry sauce that is made from red curry paste can be the most suitable alternative to red curry paste. They have the hot and spicy flavor of red curry paste. 

Curry paste and curry sauce may have similar ingredients, but they are made differently. Besides, the balance of ingredients is also not the same. To make the curry paste, you have to crush or blend all the ingredients to create a paste. But for making curry sauce, you have to cook the ingredients. 

However, you can use store-bought pre-made curry sauce as an alternative to curry paste. These are cooked and sold in jars and bottles. You can buy red, orange, and yellow curry sauce based on your needs. They have various kinds of flavors. Some are super-hot and spicy, and others can have a milder taste. 

What Should You Do to Use Curry Sauce Instead of Curry Paste? 

When you are cooking curry, using curry paste or curry sauce is fine. However, you may want the hot flavor of the curry paste which many curry sauces may not have. If you have a curry sauce with no chili, you can add some red chili paste to the recipe. 

The curry sauce can have too much dried chili and paprika. In this case, use less sauce compared to the curry paste. Since curry sauces are more liquid, you have to use less water for cooking. 

Curry sauce does not have any shrimp paste in them. So, if you are cooking a Thai recipe that requires the ingredient, make some shrimp paste and add it to the sauce. 

This way, you can modify the curry sauce and give it more flavors like curry paste. 

Some Examples Of Using Curry Sauce Instead Of Curry Paste 

Even if curry paste and curry sauce do not have a similar taste all the time, they are used to make some common recipes. So, if you run out of curry paste while making the following recipes, use curry sauce without any hesitation. The most common use of curry sauces are;

  • Making curries: This is a bit obvious. You already know that curry sauces are tasty and spicy gravy for any kind of curry. Both Indian and Thai curries have used curry sauce and curry pastes. 
  • Soup: Curry sauce nicely blends in with other ingredients while you prepare some hot soup or stews. Use curry sauce, especially when your soup has starchy ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and squashes. 
  • Noodles: Curry sauces are one of the best gravies for noodles. Take a Thai sauce and spread it over your noodles. You can even use curry sauce for stir-fried noodles. 
  • Salad Dressing: Add some curry sauce to any salad. You can mix the sauce with mayonnaise or butter to give it an acidic or sweet flavor. 
  • Seafood Dishes: Like curry paste, curry sauce can add great flavors to seafood dishes. You can spread some curry sauce over white fish or shrimp and cook them.  

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