ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spice Pastes of Southeast Asia

Updated on November 25, 2014

Galangal Roots - Used in Spice Pastes

Preparing Galangal
Preparing Galangal | Source

Spice Pastes, what they are, and what goes into them

Spice paste are used quite a bit in Southeast Asian Cuisine. They add an incredible amount of personality and taste to dishes. Throughout Southeast Asia you will find many vendors selling mounds of "wet spices" in the market stalls. They have been known to ask questions of the buyer, to determine their exact needs. Here are some of the things they will ask: Will you be cooking a fish or vegetable curry is to be prepared, and whether you like a hot and spicy curry, or something milder. Then, based on your answers, they will proceed to spoon out quantities of of chilli, ginger, lemon grass, galangal, and garlic on to a fresh banana leaf. They fold this up into a cone shaped container, and then you take it home and use it for your cooking. I think this would be such a neat experience to get to see this process take place, then go and cook something delicious.

Of course now, you can use plastic bags and jars with ready made pastes to make it even simpler, but I kind of like the idea of fresher herbs, in a banana leaf. It is kind of inspiring, and would make for a fun experiment to try to make your own. Today I will not be sharing any particular recipes, but talking about spice pastes of this region of the world. It is a neat part of Southeastern Asian cuisine.

Below, I am going to share some of the major spices used in many spice pastes throughout Southeast Asian Cuisine.

Lemon Grass

Lemongrass has become much more familiar in the West, so many more can benefit from it than ever.  One way to use it in Southeastern Asian cuisine, is to bruise the top section of the lemon grass, then added to the curry during cooking.  It will bring out the flavor wonderfully.  Make sure to remove it before serving. 

For most dishes, you can often cut the stem across, into two or three pieces and wash them.  One piece is usually sufficient enough for the flavor desired, but experiment and have fun with it. 

For many curries, salad dressings, and soups, you will want to strip off the outer leaves, and use the tender inside parts.  You can chop it then into an onion, and blend it into a curry paste.  For soups and salad dressings, no need to blend, just add small little slices into it.

Lemon grass, prepared for use.
Lemon grass, prepared for use. | Source


In Southeast Asian cuisine, chili peppers are consumed in a vast quantity. Its hard to even imagine this region without them! The odd thing is, they are not native there, and brought in by Europeans from Central and South America not much more than 500 years ago. No matter, they love to use them all the same and they help to make the cuisine what it is today. If this seems a bit on the spicy side to you, keep in mind they start children at a fairly young age and they acquire a taste for and some resistance to the "heat" that many people might balk at.

Flavor is most always the major consideration though, over the heat of the chiles. In general, the smaller the chile, the hotter it is, so be careful even when touching them. The earlier a chile is picked, the green ones, the hotter they tend to be as well. Let them get nice and red, and they ripen up beautifully. That they are vitamin and mineral rich, is just one more great reason to incorporate them into your own cuisine.

Galangal and lemon grass used in this video

Large Ginger Root

Ginger root
Ginger root | Source


Ginger, also known as jahe is a big part of the pastes of this region as well. This is the ginger that many around the world are now familiar with. It has been cultivated for centuries around the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Most often, you will peel ginger, then chop it or grate it with a grater. Or you can rough chop it, then add it to a blender.




You will find this pinkish rhizome, in both Malaysia and Indonesia, and elsewhere. The rhizome is known as laos, or lengkuas. In Thai shops, you can easily find these, and they have a bitter taste to them, and are not as hot as ginger is. It is firm to the touch, and the tough parts are tough enough to hurt the blades of a blender or processor, so be aware of this. The best way to work with them, it so peel the galangal, and cut it into small pieces and then put into the blender. The other way to use it, is to put a large piece of it into your cooking. Important note! Make sure to take this out before cooking, because if someone bites it, it may break a tooth! There is a picture of this at the top of the hub. Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you get a chance to try spice pastes from this part of the world in the future.

Root of the galangal plant, used in Asian cooking and for medicinal uses.

Galangal Root, often used in spice pastes.
Galangal Root, often used in spice pastes. | Source

Spice Paste Poll

Have you ever cooked with a spice paste before?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you, Saif. I am glad you stopped by.

    • saif113sb profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice and great information hub. thanks

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you

    • PhoenixV profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      well done hub!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Nifty, thank you so much! I will do my best to try :)

    • nifty@50 profile image


      8 years ago

      Good information! keep the great hubs coming!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)