known as Namprik Pow or Nam Prik Pow
This is an essential condiment in Thai cooking – like Dijon mustard in European cooking or coconut-cumin-green chilli paste in the Kerala kitchen. Nam Prik Pow is what gives Tom Yum Soup (Tom Yum Goong) and a host of other recipes their distinctive flavour.
Every store-bought variety we found had fish sauce or shrimp paste. Then we found an easy recipe for a vegetarian version. This is adapted from Thai Vegetarian Cooking by Vatcharin Bhumichitr.
The original recipe has a lot of salt, which acts as a preservative. We halved the amount of salt, as it gives us better control of how much salt goes in the final dish.
Vegetarian Chilli paste in Soybean Oil (Nam Prik Pow / Namprik Pow)
Makes 1/2 cup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
**soybean oil is traditionally used
1/3 cup chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup sugar
** traditionally gula melaka (palm sugar) is used. we used jaggery.
1 tsp salt
6 big red chillies, broken into bits
**you can use any combo of dried red chillies. we used 3 large New Mexico chillies and 3 dried jalapenos (Indian chillies). If exclusively using Indian dry chillies which are much smaller, double the volume. The end result will be much hotter.
Pictorial glossary of ingredients HERE.
Heat the oil, fry the garlic until light golden, take it out with a slotted spoon.
Then fry the chopped shallots until they begin to brown and crispen. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Add the red chillies and fry until they darken a shade.
Grind them along with the garlic and shallots to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Add the oil, sugar and salt, mix and store.
Or grind them all up in the food processor to a smooth paste.