Don’t waste the paste

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I reckon, if we looked in the back of most fridges up and down the country, we would be greeted with a similar sight – on the top shelf, lurking behind a tub of butter and a yoghurt pot, resides a lonely and forgotten jar of curry paste. It was probably used once, over a month ago, for your Friday night curry, and is now receiving a refrigerated jail sentence, waiting to be used for the next curry that will never come.

Well its time we recognised the versatile potential of this little neglected gem and pull it out of the fridge – whether it’s a balti, Thai red, tikka masala or rendang paste or another super spicy, aromatic, mellow or mild paste – this concentrated flavour base can be utilised in a number of ways to kick some life into meals or to inject a punch of flavour into snacks and small bites.

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Processed with VSCOcamThese fiery little patties are a quick and easy snack that use up a mix of leftovers and are great for sharing. We’ve always got some sausages leftover from a Sunday fry-up, but feel free to swap in minced meat, if you prefer.

Slit open 3 sausages (we used Cumberland) and squeeze the meat into a bowl. Finely slice and add a small handful of fresh, soft herbs, including the stalks, then stir in 1 tablespoon of leftover curry paste (we had extra hot paste, but any will do). Mix it all together, then shape into little patties. Pop them under the grill for about 20 minutes or place in a frying pan with a splash of oil until golden and cooked through, turning halfway. Serve with rice, noodles or a fresh, green salad and a nice yoghurt dip, if you like.

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Processed with VSCOcamWhether you want to spice up your Sunday lunch or have them as an aromatic side to fresh fish or chicken, get experimental and give your roast potatoes a fragrant flavour overhaul.

Parboil your potatoes, then drain well and return to the pan. Add a little curry paste (we used red Thai) and toss well. Tip into a roasting tray, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil, then place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes at 200°C/425°F, or until perfectly crispy. Don’t stop at roasted spuds – try this with other vegetables, like cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, aubergines, peppers or courgettes.

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Another great way of using up leftover curry paste, as well as leftover vegetables, is this easy, quick-fix, fish in foil recipe. This is a great way of cooking fish, as it guarantees intense flavours. Brush some curry paste (we used mild) onto a sustainably sourced, firm fish fillet (we used halibut). Add the seasoned fish to a large piece of tin foil and top with a lemon wedge and your vegetables – use whatever vegetables you have, there really is no limit. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Wrap the foil into a parcel, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF, or until cooked through (you might need a little longer if the fish is quite thick). Serve with red Thai roasties or rice.

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