Nam Prik

If you like Thai-style food, you can make a non-sweet hot nam prik yourself with all the chillis you grow at home or buy at the market. (The commercial versions in jars can be 25% sugar or more although many of the dozens of varieties you can buy fresh at markets in Thailand aren't sweet.)

Nam Prik Pao

I use variations on these, sometimes the full shrimp treatment, sometimes just a dollop of shrimp paste (the soft Thai one), but mostly it goes like this:

Peel about 2-3 heads of garlic (or buy the pre-peeled stuff from one of the Asian food shops). Proportions are about 40-60 by weight of garlic to chillis, or any proportion that suits your tastes and heat of the chillis.  I also sometime use some red onion in the mix.

Soak a couple of different types of d-seeded long dried chillis in hot water for a while.

De-stem and roughly chop all sorts of (red) chillis from my garden, including jalapeños (for bulk), various thai hot and several other varieties including Habanero and Naga Morich. There are other recipes for green chillis too.

I don't bother de-seeding, but if you want a smoother paste or don't like the seed you will have to spend the extra time.

Put it all in a big food processor, it fills ours to max capacity. Blend until fairly fine, you can add some oil and/or fish sauce at this stage if it seems to help it blend better.   Some food processors won't chop finely enough if filled to capacity, you may need to do it in smaller batches.

If using dried shrimp, I use a bladed coffee/spice grinder to break them up to a coarse powder.  Add this to the mix, along with the shrimp paste if using.

Pour a fair amount of oil (peanut, soya, safflower, vegetable, not olive) into a big/wide frying pan or skillet, at least half a cup, probably more, I often add more as it goes along too.

Slowly and gently fry the mix, stirring frequently, turn down heat to very low if it starts to brown too quickly on the bottom between stirs.

I generally adjust seasoning with fish sauce and a teaspoon of palm sugar (we don't like it sweet) after it's cooked for a while.

Don't plan on doing much for an hour or so as you will have to watch it doesn't burn and stir frequently.

It's finished when it's a deep red/brown all through.

Store in sterilised jars and top up with oil to make sure the surface is covered. You may have to do this a couple of times as it soaks up extra oil if you didn't use enough while cooking it.

If you sterilised the jars properly and covered with oil it will last for years in the cupboard and months in the fridge after it's opened, but the open jar seldom lasts that long at our place, unless we have several different ones open at once.


Nam Prik Ong - A signature dish from Northern Thailand, I've been trying to match the taste of the first one I tried some years ago, I've gotten close, but it's never quite the same, there are so many variations.  The most successful I've done starts with a big dollop of the basic Nam Prik above, on that had a fair amount of shrimp paste worked best.

Nam Prik Ong Recipe (A Starter for 4)
1 lb ground pork (fine grind is better)
4 plum tomatoes
5-6 cloves of garlic
5-6 small shallots (A half red onion in slices can be substituted if shallots are unavailable
1 Tbls vegetable oil or neutral oil of your choice
3 Tbls fish sauce
1- 1 1/2 Tbls of sugar
1 key lime or ½ of a larger lime
20 Thai bird chilis (or less if you don't care for mouth fire)
½ cup of water
Easy steps
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. When pre heated, toss in your whole tomatoes to dry roast them (No oil is needed) Let cook turning occasionally until cooked through and browned/blackened all over – 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and set aside
Repeat the same dry roasting procedure with the shallots, chilis and onions. Again, remove and set aside.
Add the pork to your skillet (if it is too blackened, get a new skillet fired up) and cook through.
In a mortar and pestle, squish squash the chili, shallots and garlic very well (you may use a blender if you don’t have a mortar and pestle here). When well smashed up, add in the tomatoes and squish them up too.
Throw another heavy skillet on the stove top, and heat it up to medium high. When hot, add in the Tbls of oil and the pork, the chili-tomato-garlic-shallot paste, and the remaining ingredients, the water, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.

Heat it all up to a vigorous boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until it is well combined and uniform, and has the consistency of a thick Bolognese pasta sauce.

Taste for seasoning and serve with fresh cut slices of cucumber and wedges of crisp cabbage (pork rinds are also a traditional accompaniment.

This works very well as an appetizer before a Thai style or better yet, a Northern Thai style dinner. Enjoy!

Another recipe for Nam Prik Ong:

5 dried Thai chilies, cut and soaked
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbs finely sliced galanga
3 tbs finely chopped onion - hua hom
1 tsp shrimp paste - gapi
5 cloves garlic, left whole
3 ounces ground pork
1 cup sliced tomatoes
2 tbs oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 whole coriander sprig
1/2 cup water
Fresh Vegetables:
cucumber, long green beans, carrot, cabbage

Boiled vegetables: long green beans, eggplant, pumpkin, cabbage

1. Pound the chili, salt and galanga in a mortar and pestle.
2. Add the onion, shrimp paste, whole garlic cloves and pound thoroughly. Add the pork and continue processing.
3. Finally, add the tomatoes and mix well.

1. Heat the oil in a wok
2. gently fry the chopped garlic. When the garlic is fragrant,
3. add pounded mixture and continue frying over low heat, stirring, until the ingredients take on a gloss.
4. Add the water and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until much of the water evaporates and the mixture becomes fairly thick.

Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves and serve with fresh vegetables or boiled vegetables or both.

And yet another:

300 grams minced pork
200 grams cherry tomato
100 grams shallots, chopped
50 grams dried chili, chopped
25 grams minced lemongrass
30 grams shrimp paste
1 tsp yellow bean sauce
40 grams minced garlic
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
30 grams coriander leaves (for garnishing)
fresh vegetables (cucumber, carrot, cabbage, string bean, etc.)
In a food processor, add shallots, shrimp paste, garlic (20 grams), yellow bean sauce, chili, lemongrass and 1/2 cup water.
Process until all mixed well (fine paste).
Heat oil in a wok over medium heat.
Add garlic and stir until golen.
Then add the paste and stir fry until aromatic.
Add pork and stir-fry until cooked thoroughly.
Add tomatoes, water, salt and sugar.
Keep stirring until the mixture boils.
Turn down to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish, garnish on top with coriander leaves.
Serve with fresh/boiled vegetables and steamed rice (or sticky rice).


Here are 9 recipes: NAMPRIK9.htm