Nam Phrik Phao or Nam Prik Pao is one of the Thai chili pastes. Because of the consistency and containing palm sugar, it is sometimes also referred to as chilli jam. This is not the kind of jam you’d have on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (although I believe that may actually be quite good). One of the characteristics is that the ingredients are roasted and then sautéed in oil. Like many traditional recipes, there are countless variations. My favorite reliable sources for Thai recipes all use dried red chili, shallots, garlic, tamarind, palm sugar, dried shrimp and shrimp paste. I’ve followed Hot Thai Kitchen’s recipe here.
Nam Prik Pao packs a lot of flavor and is an important ingredient for Thai dishes that I will share with you soon. It keeps well in the refrigerator, so it’s great to have a jar on hand. Making it from scratch ensures that you know what is in it, it will allow you to tweak it to your liking (for example by selecting a hotter or less hot type of dried chillies), and it is of course fun and something to be proud of.
Yields about 2/3 cup
8 to 10 large dried chiles (I used guajillo)
2 Tbsp dried shrimp
10 cloves garlic, peeled
same amount of shallots, roughly chopped
2-3 Tbsp tamarind juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp minced palm sugar
1/4 tsp shrimp paste
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
Start by toasting the chiles in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat. They should become soft and fragrant, but should not burn.
After toasting the chiles, remove the stems and cut them into big pieces with scissors. This makes it easier to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds.
Use a spice grinder…
…to grind the toasted chiles into a powder.
In the same frying pan, toast the garlic and shallots…
…until nicely charred.
Use the spice grinder to grind the dried shrimp…
…into a powder.
Make tamarind juice by soaking tamarind pulp in hot water…
…and then pressing it through a sieve.
Put all ingredients except the oil in a blender…
…and blend until smooth.
Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the blended mixture.
Stir over medium heat until the paste is nice and thick, about 10 minutes.
Allow the nam prik pao to cool before transferring to a clean glass jar, and then store it in the refrigerator.
These ravioli filled with sea bass and pistachios, served with a scampi ragù are amazing. I’ve recently made them again, and that won’t be the last time.