Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the humble unsung hero, the rotisserie chicken. Dress her up or dress her down, she’s always recipe ready! Like a lot of people, I can’t resist grabbing one of Costco’s famous chickens whenever I’m there, and I’ve developed read more
If you’re only forays into Thai food center around pad thai, chicken satay, and their famous iced tea, you might not know that their cuisine can be some of the spiciest on the planet. And when a dish isn’t quite hot enough or just needs a little oomph they will often reach for Prik Nam Pla, a fiery condiment that also provides a hefty dose of funk. Drizzle it over grilled meats, use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, or even add it to steamed rice; Prik Nam Pla is so ubiquitous on tables in Thailand that it’s sometimes just called Thai sauce. Made with only two ingredients, Prik Nam Pla is ready to spice up your life too!
Do you have a refrigerator full of half finished condiments? Are you a condiment hoarder? Guilty. The problem with condiments is that you can never remember when you opened them and often times they’ve already gone bad by the time you remember you had it. Well, have no fear friends. I’ve got you covered. Prik Nam Pla rarely goes bad. It can live in your fridge and you can be assured that it will be ready for you whenever you need it. Top it off with more fish sauce as needed and refresh it with more chiles when you feel it needing a jolt. It’s that simple.
Prik Nam Pla is traditionally made with Thai bird chilis. These little peppers pack a lot of heat, anywhere between 50,000-100,000 Scoville units. That makes them a lot hotter than jalapenos. Use caution when handling them, I use gloves to protect my hands from the oils which can irritate skin. (And eyes, if you should accidentally rub them.)
If Thai bird chilies are difficult for you to source, you can look for any spicy fresh chile: serranos, spicy cayennes, or even something you might be growing in the garden. I store my chiles in the freezer because I can never use it all before it starts to go bad. Just pull out what you need, give them a quick rinse, and you’re good to go. This sauce starts with 1/2 a cup of thai bird chiles which I think is spicy but not overpowering. Do you live for the burn? If so, increase the amount of minced chiles and you will jump to the typical Thai level.
I like to chop the chiles by hand because it’s not a huge quantity and my food processor does a poor job chopping up small amounts. But you can also use a food processor to chop the chilis, if you have one with a smaller bowl. Use the pulse feature because you don’t want to process them so much they turn to mush. Make sure you trim the stems first.
The other ingredient in Prik Pla Nam is fish sauce. Yes fish sauce is pungent. But it is also briny, salty, funky, and even has a touch of sweetness. And because it is a fermented food, it is incredibly shelf stable and allows this condiment to stay fresh as long as you keep the chilis covered in it. I prefer Thai fish sauces over Vietnamese because I find them milder and less stinky. For those of you not familiar with fish sauce, look for a fish sauce containing minimal ingredients, usually just the anchovies and salt. Also the darker it is in the bottle, the more intense it will be in flavor.
Once you’ve poured the fish sauce over the chiles, it’s ready to use but best after a night of steeping. I keep it covered in the fridge and pull it out as desired. Most Thais would keep it sitting out on the table; but unless you’re using Prik Pla Nam regularly at meal time, I wouldn’t.
Uses for Prik Pla Nam
Now that you have this jar of spicy goodness, what are you going to do with it? Use it as a dipping sauce for Air Fryer Tofu or Shumai. Add a dollop to Thai Shrimp Salad to make it extra spicy. Drizzle some on top of a perfectly fried egg. Or just make like they do in Thailand, and regularly put it out on the table for folks that just love everything deliciously spicy. Prik Nam Pla is the perfect combination of salt, spice, and umami. Try it and tell us what you use it for; we love hearing from you! Show off your gorgeous jar of homemade Prik Nam Pla by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen!
- ¼ –½ cup thai bird chiles, washed and stems removed
- 1 cup fish sauce
- Wear gloves and use caution. Place the chiles on a cutting board and trim the stems. Use a sharp knife to mince finely. Use ¼ cup of chiles for light spice and ½ cup for medium heat.
- Place the chopped chiles in a glass container and add the fish sauce. Stir to combine.
- Cover and store prik nam pla in the fridge.
*You can add more chopped chilis to taste. Most Thais would be using 3/4 – 1 cup of chilis…I know 😉
*I use a glass container which doesn’t retain scents. If you use a plastic container, know that it may never be the same.
*This condiment lasts indefinitely. Top it off with more fish sauce or fresh chiles as needed.
Keywords: hot sauce, spicy, chilis, prik nam pla, thai, condiment
How do we love shrimp? Let us count the ways. There’s Green Curry, Salt Baked, Coconut, Spicy Salads, Noodles.…you get the drift. But when I want an easy appetizer that is sure to wow people, I reach for this Tamarind Shrimp. It’s super fast but has a sophisticated feel. The shrimp get nice and crispy, and the tamarind sauce is to die for. This is a Thai inspired dish, and the flavors will have you feeling the tropics.
Tamarind Shrimp Sauce
Tamarind concentrate, sometimes called tamarind pulp or paste, is a fundamental ingredient in Thai Cuisine. It has a complex sweet and sour flavor that is essential to foods like Pad Thai as well as countless soups, curries, beverages, and sweets. Here we mix it with fish sauce, sugar, and spices for an assertively fruity, funky sauce with just the right touch of sweetness.
Looking for ways to use up the rest of your tamarind concentrate? Check out:
The secret to shrimp that’s perfectly golden and crispy when lightly fried? Potato starch! A coating of potato starch limits the oil that the shrimp will absorb, helping them fry up to crispy perfection. It also keeps my Tamarind Shrimp gluten free. A little egg white helps the potato starch to adhere, and then they are ready to pan fry.
When the shrimp have absorbed all that amazing sauce, they are ready. Tamarind Shrimp makes a nice sized appetizer for 4, or a light supper for 2, especially served with Coconut Rice. Try them soon and let me know what you think by commenting and rating the recipe below, and by tagging us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love hearing from you!
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 13/15 size)
- ⅓ cup potato starch
- 1 egg white
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 Tablespoons oil
- ¼ cup tamarind concentrate
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ ground coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Combine the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- Place the shrimp in a bowl and add the egg white. Mix to coat the shrimp. Put the potato starch in a small bowl. Dip the shrimp, one at a time, into the potato starch so that it is well coated. Set aside.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat for several minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Place half of the shrimp in the pan in one layer and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
- Repeat with the other half of the shrimp.
- Return the pan to the stove. If the pan is dry, add 1 Tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Next add the sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat the shrimp. The shrimp should have absorbed most of the sauce and the pan will be mostly dry.
- Serve immediately.
Keywords: tamarind, shrimp, seafood, appetizers, thai