Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Nam Prik Pao (Thai Red Chili Jam)

Nam Prik Pao, called Chili Paste or more correct Chili Jam, is a spicy Thai concoction made from chilies and shallots and garlic, and normally is made from either grilled ingredients or fried ones. Once made, you can use it as a salad dressing, in hot and sour soups like Tom Yum, or in stir-fries. The finished product keeps indefinitely. I find it very spicy, so use with caution. As a point of interest, some Nam Prik Pao was involved in a Terror Alert in London, England, when the air around this Soho restaurant was infused with acrid smoke and chili, the area was evacuated and emergency personnel descended upon the restaurant, to find burning chili. Kind of funny.

Nam Prik Pao
4 tablespoons of Peanut Oil
6 - 8 cloves of Garlic
6 Asian Shallots
6 - 8 medium fresh Thai Red Chillies
1 tablespoon fermented Shrimp Paste
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 teaspoons of Brown Sugar

Peel the garlic cloves and shallots and chop and crush them finely. Slice the chillies finely. Heat a frypan heat and add one tablespoon of the oil, add the minced garlic and shallots and fry briefly. Remove from the heat and scrape them into a bowl and set aside. In another tablespoon of the oil, add the chillies to the pan and fry until they just start to change colour, then remove them and set aside.

With a mortar and pestle pound the shrimp paste, add the chillies, garlic and shallots, blending each in before adding the next. Then over a low heat, return all the ingredients to the pan with the remaining oil, and fold until the mixture resembles a thick oily red/black paste, uniform in colour and texture.


Barbara said...

This post is actually intended to
comment on "Nam Prik Pao" recipe--
is fermented Shrimp Paste different
than Kapi? Can I use shrimp paste,
to be precise a jarred shrimp paste
made by Lee Kum Kee?

Mike said...

I would say that for this recipe, use the Thai shrimp paste, or Kapi. Using the Chinese shrimp paste (even the Lee Kum Kee, which is Chinese made for Westerners) or the Indonesian belachan will not give you the proper, or even tasty, results.

But then, we are all cooks, so feel free to experiment, and let me know the results!