Thai Food: Thai Recipes: Nam Prig Pad Thai Chili Paste

by Richard on August 7, 2012

Thai Food: Thai Recipes



Thai Food: Thai Recipes: Nam Prig Pad

This week I am making one of my favorite and easy Thai RecipesNam Prig Pad the famous Thai chili sauce/paste that is used in Thai Food cooking and it’s also famous for causing a terror alert in Soho, London England sometime back in 2007 when a Thai restaurant was making it’s own Thai Nam Prik Pad. The smell of the burning chili peppers set someone off and they contacted the authorities and off the cops went only to find a humble restaurant making their own chili paste! Now if that won’t make chili paste famous I don’t know what will?  Why am I making Nam Prig Pad you ask? Well I guess by this point that many of you that visit my blog know that I LOVE Thai Food and I love to work with Thai Recipes. I love the flavors of Southeast Asia, Thailand, Viet Nam etc. I find that Thai Food has a certain versatility and interchangeability that food from other cultures doesn’t have in my humble opinion. The flavors! The aroma’s! Oh man! Just can’t be beat! Well I do a fair amount of Thai Recipes and other Asian dishes on this blog of mine and I always try to add my own twist to the recipes I make. Last week I made another of my favorite Thai Recipes called Thai Pad Cha which is one of my favorite Thai Recipes. It’s a seafood Thai dish. The dish uses a sauce combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce and fish sauce. I thought to myself that this was going to really salty so I decided to substitute Nam Prig Pad in place of the oyster sauce.  So I used the Nam Prig Pad and then during this last week I received about 15 email from people asking me to make Nam Prig Pad on my Youtube channel. So I did! Nam Prig Pad is good in so many Thai Recipes but, it give many other foods a great flavor as well. Nam Prig Pad makes a delicious BBQ sauce and makes for a KILLER grilled cheese sandwich! No really!  Try it!

Thai chili paste or Nam Prig Pad is the paste that is very often used in Tom Yum Goong soup and other Thai Food. It is usually a dark brown to black chili paste from Thailand. The color of the chili paste depends on how much your roast  your chili peppers. There are many Thai Recipes for Nam Prik Pad but the base of the recipe is garlic, shallots, and dry chili peppers some salt and sugar usually palm sugar and in some cases there is the addition of tamarind paste, shrimp paste and dried shrimp. You can buy tamarind paste in your local Asian market in a jar or in block form but just make sure that when you buy the tamarind that it is only tamarind and water with no other ingredients in it. If you can’t find it at your local market you can get it here online.

From what I am to glean in my research about Thai Food is that what I was calling Nam Prik Pad/Pao which is how I learned to call this Thai food mixture is actually supposed to be called Nam Prig Pad! Pad means stir fried. In Nam Prig Pad the ingredients are meant to be grilled and then ground up and then fried in oil and some sugar is added. The sugar acts as a kind of preservative and that is why Nam Prig Pad can last for months on your counter top. On the other hand Nam Prig Pow is when the ingredients are grilled and then ground rather than ground and then stir fried. Most Nam Prig Pow in jars are just the ingredients of Nam Prig Pow being fried and having sugar added to it and that’s that! The problem is that most people including me have used the name Nam Prig Pow and Nam Prig Pad as meaning the same thing in Thai Recipes and it’s not! Lesson learned! Another interesting fact about Nam Prig Pow is that in many places it’s called Nam Prig Dang or red chili paste because of the deep reddish color that comes from the redness of the chili peppers. There are many varieties of Nam Prig Pad that you can get in jars at the local Asian market but in the last year I have gotten into making my own style of Thai Recipes of Nam Prig Pad. Some smoother than others. Some browner than others. Some more rustic than others.

I have made the standard Thai recipes of Nam Prig Pad using the chili peppers, sugar, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and dried shrimps. As I stated there are many ways to accomplish making Nam Prig Pad. I have also made it with dried squid, dried scallops and dried cuttlefish. This week I am just going to show you how to make one of  the standard Thai Recipe of Nam Prig Pad with just a couple of additions and changes. These changes are as follows. I am going to be using Molasses instead of palm sugar or brown sugar. I mean brown sugar is just sugar with molasses added to it anyway! Palm sugar is sweet  and brown sugar is sweet and imparts that sweetness to the Nam Prig Pad. Molasses on the other hand is already dark in color and will impart some darkness and richness to the Nam Prig Pad and will also all more depth to the sweetness and in my opinion more character. I will also be adding some lime juice as a preservative and some cooked lemongrass to the mix as well. So if you love Thai Food as much as I do then sit tight and enjoy the video!

Thai Food: Thai Recipes: Nam Prig Pad Thai Chili Paste

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

1 to 1 1/2 Cups Of Paste

As Much As You Want!

Thai Food: Thai Recipes: Nam Prig Pad Thai Chili Paste


  • 8 to 12 Dried chili peppers.
  • 2 Tsp. Shrimp paste or 1/2 to 1 cup dried shrimp.
  • 1 Cup garlic cloves.
  • 1 Cup sliced shallots.
  • 3 Tsp. finely sliced lemongrass.
  • 4 Tbsp. Molasses.
  • 4 Tbsp. Tamarind paste.
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil.
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice.
  • Optional: 1 or 2 Tablespoons of miso or soybean paste added to chili paste for thickness


  1. Heat up your wok
  2. on medium to medium high heat.
  3. When your wok
  4. gets hot enough add your dried chilies.
  5. Stir your chilies constantly.
  6. You want them to smoke a bit and get slightly blackened.
  7. You don't want to burn or over smoke the chilies because you can burn your eyes.
  8. When chilies are done remove from wok and set them aside.
  9. Now cut your garlic and shallots into thin slices.
  10. Cut your lemongrass into thin slices.
  11. Keep garlic, shallots, and lemongrass separate as they get fried separately.
  12. Add your cooking oil to the wok .
  13. Heat up wok on medium.
  14. When oil gets hot add your garlic slices to the oil.
  15. Stir garlic constantly to cook evenly. You want the garlic to turn a golden brown.
  16. When garlic is golden brown remove from oil and set aside.
  17. Now add shallots to the oil and stir constantly. Cook until golden brown.
  18. When shallots are golden brown remove from oil and set aside.
  19. Now add your lemongrass to the oil and fry until golden brown them remove and set aside.
  20. With all these ingredients fried turn heat on oil off we will come back to it later.
  21. Take your cooled chili pods and using a sharp knife cut the stems off from the top.
  22. Now cut the chili pods lengthwise and split them open and remove the seeds and ribs/pith.
  23. Put the chili pods into a food processor and process to a medium or fine powder.
  24. When the chili pods are done being ground take them from the food processor and put aside.
  25. Now put the fried garlic, fried shallots and fried lemongrass into the food processor .
  26. Process the garlic, shallots and lemongrass into fine bits.
  27. When done transfer the garlic, shallots and lemongrass and set aside.
  28. Now prepare your tamarind pulp.(see notes below on how to prepare your tamarind pulp)
  29. Tim To Make The Nam Prig Pad
  30. Reheat the oil in the wok until it is hot.
  31. If using shrimp paste take two teaspoons and roll into a ball and then flatten it.
  32. Put shrimp paste ball into hot oil and cook for one or two minutes until fragrant.
  33. Now lower heat a bit and add your chili powder to the oil and stir constantly for about a minute.
  34. Now add your garlic, shallots, lemongrass mixture along with tamarind pulp, and molasses into the oil and stir constantly for about a minute.
  35. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir.
  36. Now taste your mixture and make any necessary adjustments you want in any of the flavors.
  37. You should strive for flavors of salty, sweet, sour, spicy and smoky depending on how you roasted your chili peppers.
  38. Spicy is OK! Nam Prig Pad is not supposed to be fiery HOT!
  39. Keep simmering until the mixture reduces a little bit.
  40. You want a jam like texture to your Nam Prig Pad.
  41. Turn heat off.
  42. As the mixture cools it will thicken a bit.
  43. Now you can add your lime juice and mix it in well.
  44. Now you can add your optional soybean paste or miso mix it in well.
  45. Optionally you can add 3 Tbsp. of fish sauce if the saltiness is not quite enough from the shrimp paste.
  46. When the Nam Prig Pad has cooled enough transfer the paste to an airtight container. I like to use 1 and 2 cup size mason jars or just a clean old jar will do. This paste will keep for months in either the cupboard or in the fridge! Enjoy!

Note 1: You can roast your chilies in the wok or on an open flame just make sure that you adjust the heat of the flame so that your chili pods don't pop!

Note 2: You can also as an optional step roast your garlic cloves and shallots on an open flame prior to slicing them for frying. You just put your garlic cloves and shallots on a spit and roast them. I performed this step as it adds an extra layer of smokiness to the chili paste.

Note 3: You can use one type of chili pepper if you want in this mixture or you can mix chilies as I did using Guajillo, chili de arbol, chili japones and New Mexico chili

Note 4: You can use shrimp paste as I did or you can use dried shrimp. If using the dried shrimp you will fry them in oil for a minute or two just as you did the garlic and shallots and then you would grind them in the processor as you did the chili pods.

Note 5: You can buy Tamarind paste in a jar or block in your Asian market just make sure that the only ingredients are Tamarind and water. If using the block of "wet tamarind" then cut off 25% of it and put in a bowl and pour hot water over it to soften it and reduce it to a paste consistency. Then run your tamarind pulp through a sieve to make sure you get no skin or seeds in your pulp. Start with 4 Tbsp. of the pulp for this recipe and add more if you wish!

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