Every time I go to a Thai joint I think to myself that I must try to make Nam Prik Pao , the delicious sweet chili jam that is always served as a relish. I usually end up eating it by the spoonful even before the food arrives!
Finally, I got around to doing it.
First of all, I should mention that this is the vegetarian version of the actual recipe. It was not really a deliberate decision though.
I needed dry red chilies for making another dish. The grocer below my building only had these huge packs, so that’s what I bought. That packet was kinda staring at me; I had to make use of all that lovely looking chilies.
Then I remembered, Thai Chili Jam! But all the recipes that I found asked for dries shrimp paste, which I didn’t have. Then I thought what the heck, I will make it without the shrimp paste and see what happens. I must say I don’t miss it in the final product.
So here we go, the recipe.
Nam Prik Pao - ingredients :
- 75g whole dried chilli, substitute about 7 tbsp chili powder
- 100g garlic, about 2 medium heads
- 150g shallots, about 5 medium shallots
- 1 cup, 250ml oil
- 100g palm sugar, about 10 tbsp, chopped
- 1/3 cup tamarind pulp
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/4 cup water
Set a pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the dried whole chilli. Stir vigorously, until the chilli pods begin to smoke and burn in places. Remove the chili from the heat. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, peel garlic and shallots and cut into thin slices. Keep the garlic and shallot slices separated for now, they will have to be fried separately.
Add 1 cup of oil into a pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic slices. Keep stirring to make sure that all the garlic is cooked evenly. When the garlic turn light golden brown – don’t let them turn too dark now as they will continue to cook a bit more off the heat – use a colander or slotted spoon to fish out all the garlic flakes. Set aside.
Add the sliced shallots into the remaining oil in the pan. Cook until they are golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent hot spots. When the shallots are done, turn the heat off, fish the fried shallot flakes out and leave the oil in the pan. Set aside.
Using a pestle & mortar OR food processor, combine the prepared chili with the shrimp paste, fish sauce, sugar, tamarind and water. Also add the fried garlic and shallots. Pound or process all together to form a thick paste.
Return this paste to your frying pan and stir it into the oil over low heat, gently simmering until you get a fairly even consistency. Adjust the consistency by adding a little more water if you find it too thick, or more oil if you prefer a "shinier" sauce. Adjust the taste, adding more fish sauce if you'd like it saltier, or more sugar if you'd like it sweeter.
Transfer the Nam Prik Pao into an airtight container – I love to use old jam jars for this. Nam Prik Pao will keep in the cupboard for a few months and longer if you keep it in your fridge.
Use your Nam Prik Pao as an addition to Thai soups, or added as a flavor booster to Thai stir-fries and curry sauces. Also wonderful when stir-fried with seafood, or as an accompaniment to dumpling, noodles or almost anything! Enjoy!