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Recipes / Pim Techamuanvivit’s Nam Prik Pao (Chile Jam)

Pim Techamuanvivit’s Nam Prik Pao (Chile Jam)

By Mark Bittman

Published December 8, 2023

In this recipe, from Pim Techamuanvivit of Kin Khao, fried chiles, garlic and shallots are ground to a paste and simmered with shrimp paste, palm sugar, tamarind and fish sauce in this addictively sweet-and-not-too-spicy condiment.

Photo: Ian Allen
Photo: Ian Allen
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Pim Techamuanvivit’s Nam Prik Pao (Chile Jam)

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Makes about 1 pint 1x

Time 30 minutes

Scale

Ingredients

  • 12-inch square of tamarind paste
  • 75 grams (about 2 1/2 ounces) dried Puya chiles
  • 1 cup of rice-bran oil (or any high-heat-tolerant vegetable oil)
  • 2 heads’ worth of garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Thai shrimp paste, broken into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped palm sugar
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons fish sauce

Instructions

  1. Combine the tamarind paste with 1/2 cup very hot water, and break up the paste with a spoon or your fingers; soak for a few minutes, breaking up the paste a few more times if needed. Push the mixture through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon; set aside the pulp that passes through the strainer, and discard what remains inside the strainer. Stem and seed the chiles.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not quite smoking. Add the chiles, and cook, stirring, for 15 to 20 seconds, making sure they don’t burn. Remove with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the garlic to the oil, and fry, stirring frequently, until just golden brown. (It will continue to brown after it’s out of the oil, so don’t go too dark now.) Transfer to the plate with the chiles. Fry the shallots until golden brown, and transfer to the plate. Turn off the heat, leaving the oil in the pan. Transfer the chiles, garlic and shallots to a food processor; pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the mixture turns into a paste (no need to make it totally smooth).
  4. Turn the heat under the pan to medium. Add the shrimp paste, and cook, stirring and breaking it up, for about a minute or 2. Add the palm sugar, and cook, stirring, until it dissolves. Add the chile, garlic and shallot mixture, the tamarind pulp and 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce. Stir to combine, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally so the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn, until it thickens slightly, 2 or 3 minutes. Taste the mixture; if it still needs salt, add more fish sauce, a little at a time.
  5. You can store the jam (and the oil) in a jar in the fridge or freezer; use it in stir-fries or soups, spoon it on top of rice or noodles, or spread it on toast.

— Recipe from The New York Times