Nam prik pao is a stateless ethnic Thai dish that I recently discovered. It is a combination of the Dried Squid and Pork Sate (Phrik khing) which I go-to when I want to have something light and yet satisfying. The squid and pork are stir-fried with some eggplant, Vietnamese Vang (Pho) style.

I have seen a lot of fantastic food around here but I never seem to have more than enough time to eat it. This time, I have been invited as an AYCE guest to eat at a small but nice restaurant that I have never been to.

Nam prik pao is a classic Thai dish of duck blood and intestines, that is usually served in spicy, sour and salty flavors. The recipe is often prepared in a wok then placed on the floor, as it is a very rich dish. The name means “the duck blood and intestines are boiling in the wok”.

Nam prik is a hot chilli paste in oil or chilli sauce with a consistency similar to chilli jam that is often used as a condiment or dipping sauce for fried and other vegetable dishes in Thailand. Chilli paste in oil with a fiery and sweet jam consistency.

There are many different types of nam prik, such as nam prik pla (chilli sauce with mackerel fish), nam prik pla raa (chilli sauce with fermented fish sauce), nam prik kaphi (chilli sauce with fermented shrimp paste), nam prik num (grilled green chilli paste), and so on, but the one I am familiar with is nam prik poa (roasted red chilli paste).

Nam prik poa is a spicy, salty, sour, and sweet dish. Nam prik poa is a delicious side dish that goes well with tom yum goong (hot and sour prawn soup) or any other tom yum soup. It’s utilized in noodle dishes as well as fried rice. Dried red chillies, tamarind paste or pulp, palm sugar or jaggery (gud, Indian brown sugar), fish sauce, garlic, shallots (sambar onions), dry tiny shrimps, and shrimp paste are among the components in nam prik poa. Shrimp paste is difficult to get by in India, although dried shrimps are readily available in fish markets. If you’re a vegetarian, skip the fish sauce and shrimp and instead prepare the recipe below. I’ve seen in the markets that the paste is often black in color and has a lot of oil on top; you can easily double the oil when preparing this. When I prepared the sauce, I noticed that it wasn’t hot or sour, but rather sweet, with more shrimp flavor and taste, but the balance was right for me. You may add additional onion, red chilies, and tamarind if desired. You may keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. It arrived in two tiny bottles for me.

You may use nam prik poa in popular Thai soups like tom yum goong, stir fries, fried rice, and other Thai cuisines. I’ll post some of the dishes that you may make with this nam prik poa in the near future.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 12 dry red chilies
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 10 scallions or sambar onions
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli powder
  • Dry Tamarind — size of a large lemon (40 gms)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons palm sugar or jaggery (gud)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dry shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce

Method

  • Soak the dried tamarind in hot water for a few minutes, then squeeze it gently in the water to create the tamarind pulp. Remove the seeds from the pulp and set it aside.
  • Soak the dried shrimps in water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside to dry.
  • Heat the oil in the pot, then add the entire red chillies that have been roasted in it. Cook until the color changes and the chillies become crisp, then transfer to a dish and set aside.
  • Add whole shallots or onions or sliced sambar onions and sauté for a few minutes until translucent, then add garlic and roast in oil over medium heat until onion is golden and cooked thoroughly, and garlic is slightly golden color, then turn off and set aside.
  • In a mixer or spice blender, combine all of the roasted ingredients, including the dried shrimps, and grind to a coarse powder or paste. Set it aside for now.
  • Reheat the oil to 1/4 cup or more, add the grounded coarse paste, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, and the other ingredients, and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat, adding 1/3 cup water if the sauce is too thick.
  • After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook until the color becomes black, around 15 to 25 minutes, and the oil has risen to the top.
  • Allow to cool before pouring into bottles and storing in the refrigerator.
  • Serve with stir-fried noodles, as a dipping sauce for Vietnamese-style spring rolls or rice wrappers, or mix a few table spoons into rice to make fried rice.

Notes

  • If shrimp paste is available, use 1 to 2 teaspoons and roast with the other ingredients in the oil.
  • You may use tamarind paste instead of tamarind pulp.
  • Small shallots with a sweet flavor, sambar onions are often used in south India. You may use shallots or onions instead of sambar onions.
  • Taste the nam prik poa while it’s cooking to determine whether it needs salt, spiciness, or sourness, and adjust as needed.

 

The end of the year is approaching, and that means that the most popular and delicious cold noodles are going to be one of the biggest memories of 2009 for many of you. For me, it’ll be the most delicious cold noodles I ever ate.. Read more about nam prik pao tom yum and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is nam prik pao used for?

Nam prik pao is a type of Thai dipping sauce that is used in many different dishes. It can be found in most Asian markets and it can also be made at home.

Is sambal oelek the same as nam prik pao?

Sambal oelek is a type of Thai chili paste. Nam prik pao is a type of Thai chili sauce.

What can I substitute for Thai chili paste?

You can use a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar.