Nam Prik Pao (Thai chili paste)

Nam Prik Pao is the Thai version of Mexican tabasco or Chinese la jiao - in other words, hot sauce. However, the one thing I love about it is that, as with all other Southeast Asian foods, there are just so many exotic and complex tastes involved. It's not just spicy - it's sweet and tangy and sour too, and all topped with a heady aroma that sends you swimming in flavor.

I decided to make this in preparation for my Tom Yum soup, but you can also use it to make a versatile stirfry .
This recipe was adapted from Chez Pim with a few variations of my own.  

Nam Prik Pao


-7 tbsp chili powder
-2 heads of garlic, sliced
-5 shallots, sliced
-Oil for frying
-10 tbsp brown sugar
-2 tbsp shrimp paste
-1/3 cup tamarind pulp
-3 tbsp fish sauce
-1/4 cup water

Note: I suggest you chop the garlic and shallots by hand, as they give the sauce more texture. 

1. Pour oil in a medium saucepan and fry the garlic until they look slightly browned (but NOT burned!). Remove from the pan. 
2. Fry the shallots until they are slightly browned as well. Remove. 
3. Fry the shrimp paste for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the garlic, shallots, half the chili powder, sugar, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, and water. 
5. Mess around with the flavoring, adding more chili powder if you want. 
6. Reduce to slightly viscous, but not too much because it'll reduce as it cools as well. 
7. Pour into an airtight container; it should last for a few months. 


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