NAM PRIK - 9 Versions of the Spicy Thai Dipping Sauce  


Nam prik is primarily used as a dipping sauce for fresh or grilled vegetables, rice cakes, pork rinds or to spice up rice dishes. The finished sauce is often similar in the texture to spaghetti sauce and is almost as versatile. Here are a few recipes that each make about one cup of this hot, spicy sauce. All sauces should be served hot or at room temperature.

Nam Prik Dah-daeng (Red-Eye Nam Prik)

1/4 of a block of tamarind soaked in 1/2 c water (or 1/2 c tamarind sauce)
1/3 cup dried shrimp (crushed)
4 tbs each of chopped red onion and garlic (microwaved for 2 minutes)
1 tbs kapi (shrimp paste)
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs red chile powder
2 tbs palm sugar
1 tbs nam pla (fish sauce)

When tamarind chunk starts to soften, knead it for about 2 minutes, removing seeds and fibers to make tamarind sauce. Put the onion and garlic in a mortar and pound until fine, or blend in a food processor, then add the shrimp paste and dried shrimp. Set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan, then and add chile powder, stir in the paste from the mortar and season with palm sugar, fish sauce and the tamarind sauce.

Nam Prik Goong Siap (Shrimp Nam Prik)

4 to 6 magrut (or kaffir) lime leaves, deveined and cut into 1/4 inch strips
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1 to 1 1/2 c dried shrimp
2 tbs red curry paste
2 tbs Nam Pla (fish sauce)
2 tbs palm sugar

Heat oil in a wok or skillet, add shrimp and fry until they float (about 1 minute). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add lime leaves to oil and fry until crisp (about 30 seconds), remove to paper towels to drain. Pour off oil in wok, leaving about 2 tablespoons, add red curry paste and stir fry until aromatic, season with fish sauce and palm sugar, stir to dissolve, add fried shrimp and stir fry until sauce begins to cling, then add lime leaves and stir fry. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot or cold.

Nam Prik Kaeng Kari

15 dried Chilies, chopped
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Cloves
2 tbs chopped Lemon Grass
4 tbs chopped Shallots
2 tbs chopped Garlic
2 tbs Yellow Curry Powder
1 tbs Oil

Place the chopped chillies in a little warm water and soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the cumin and coriander seeds in a saucepan without adding any oil and dry-fry them over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring all the time, until they give off a roasted aroma. Drain the chilies and place in a mortar together with the remaining ingredients and pound together to form a smooth paste. Serve at room temperature.

Nam Prik Makham Piag

1 c Makham piag (sour tamarind) paste, peeled, seeds and fibers discarded
1/4 c Kung haeng (dried shrimp)
1/4 c Hom daeng (shallots), chopped
2 tb Kratiem (garlic), chopped
2 tb Nam pla (fish sauce)
1 tb Prik ki nu haeng daeng (dried red chilis)
1 ts Kapi (fermented shrimp paste)
1 ts Nam tan paep (palm sugar)

Pound the shrimp in a mortar and pestle, dry fry the chilis until aromatic, then crush. Place the shallots and garlic, unskinned, under the grill or
broiler, and toast until aromatic and the skins begin to discolor, then peel and chop.

Fry the shrimp paste in a very small amount of oil until aromatic then combine with the other ingredients (except tamarind paste) and grind to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle (or food processor). Finally, fold in
the tamarind paste.

Nam Prik Num (Grilled Green Chile)

6 to 8 long green sweet chiles, hot banana peppers or pasilla/ancho chiles
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 peeled shallot
1 to 2 tbs Nam Pla (fish sauce)

Grill the peppers, garlic and shallots over medium-hot coals until just charred or bake under the broiler until peppers are charred looking. Let the chiles cool then peel off skin. Pound the garlic and shallots to a paste, add the chiles, including the seeds, then add fish sauce until the nam prik tastes just salty enough. Grind to a is slightly fibrous texture (not a puree). Alternately, with a food processor, puree the garlic and shallots then add the other ingredients and pulse to a chunky consistency.

Nam Prik Oong (Tomato and Pork Nam Prik)

10 fresh red chiles
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
1 tbs shrimp paste
1 tsp salt

4 small tomatoes, quartered and gently seeded
1 to 2 tbs vegetable oil
1 ts minced garlic
1/2 cup ground pork
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs Nam Pla (fish sauce)

Seed the chiles and put them in a mortar, add the onion, shrimp paste and salt, then pound until the mixture turns into a paste (or blend in a food processor) to make gaeng som paste. Put the tomatoes into the mortar with the chile paste and pound to incorporate or use a food processor.

Heat the oil in a small wok or saucepan, add the garlic and fry until it begins to brown, add the paste and fry until the aromas are released, then add the pork, sugar and fish sauce. Stir-fry until the pork is cooked. Best served warm or at room temperature.

Nam Prik Pao

4 tbs oil
3 tbs chopped garlic
3 tbs chopped shallots
3 tbs coarsely chopped dried red chiles
1 tbs fermented shrimp paste
1 tbs Nam Pla (fish sauce)
2 tsp of sugar

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and shallots and fry briefly, remove from oil and set aside. Add the chilies and fry until they start to
get dark, remove them and set them aside.

In a mortar and pestle pound the shrimp paste, add the chiles, garlic
and shallots, blending each in before adding the next. Then over low
heat return all the ingredients to the oil, and work into a slightly thick

Nam Prik Platu (Shrimp Paste Nam Prik)

3 garlic cloves
10 to 15 fresh red Thai chiles
1 tbs shrimp paste
1 tbs palm sugar
2 tbs finely minced dried shrimp
2 tbs lime juice
1 tbs Nam Pla (fish sauce)
About 1/4 cup slivered green mango (optional)

If you opt for frying the herring: Heat the oil and add the herring. Deep- fry until golden brown. Remove and drain well.

Pulverize garlic and herring in a food processor or mortar with pestle, add chiles and blend into a paste. Add shrimp paste, sugar, dried shrimp, lime juice, fish sauce and green mango and stir well. Add additional lime juice or fish sauce to taste and for a light, watery, dipping consistency. Works well with fresh vegetables and deep fried pickled fish like sardines or herring.

Nam Prik with Smoked Fish

2 c coconut milk
3 tsp red curry paste
1.5 c flaked smoked trout or whitefish

Boil the coconut milk in a wok or saucepan until 2/3 of the liquid has evaporated, add the curry paste and add the smoked fish when the curry aroma is released. Adjust (if needed) with extra coconut milk to get a good dipping consistency.