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Thai food is delicious – and easy to make at home. It starts, however, with the right ingredients – which in our case, means a spice paste; it is the basic building block for all of our thai food escapades. Enjoy!

2 teaspoons black peppercorns
5 to 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro roots (or stems)
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce

Place the peppercorns in a mortar with the garlic and pound to a paste. Add the cilantro roots and salt and pound to a paste. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you have a small blender or other food grinder that can produce a smooth paste, you can use it instead. (We tend to toss in a few cilantro stems along with the roots when we make this paste—just for good measure.) Stir in the fish sauce. Use the paste immediately or store in a well-sealed glass jar. This keeps for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

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