Thai Roasted Chili Paste (Nahm Prik Pao)

"Nahm prik pao is traditionally made by roasting the chilies, shallots, and garlic over coal in charcoal stoves. At home, the ingredients are best grilled over a charcoal fire, but they may also be oven roasted, or cooked in a heavy skillet. Use in Tom Yum soup or anywhere you'd like a kick of smoky, chili pepper heat."
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Ready In:
1 1/4 Cups


  • 12 cup small dried red chilies such as chiles de arbol, stemmed halved crosswise and loosely packed (about 32) or 1/2 cup chile, japones stemmed halved crosswise and loosely packed (about 32)
  • 12 cup shallot, unpeeled, cut into chunks, about 3 ounces
  • 14 cup garlic clove, unpeeled (8 - 10 cloves)
  • 12 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • In a wok or a small, heavy skillet, dry fry the chilies over med-low heat until the darken and become fragrant and brittle, 3-5 minutes. Remove and transfer to a plate to cool.
  • Increase the heat to medium and dry fry the shallots and garlic, turning them occasionally, until they are softened, wilted, and blistered.
  • Stem the chilies and discard most of the seeds. Crumble the chilies into small pieces. Trim the shallots and garlic, discarding the peel and root ends, and chop coarsely. Combine the chilies, shallots, and garlic in a mini-processor or blender and pulse to a coarse paste. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and grind to a fairly smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Pour the remaining 1/4 cup oil into the wok or a skillet. Place over medium heat until a bit of the paste added to the pan sizzles at once, about 1 minute. Add the ground chili paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste gradually darkens and releases a rich fragrance, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Combine the sugar, tamarind, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl and stir well. Add this mixture to the cooked chili paste and stir to combine. The paste will be quite oily, and must be well stirred before each use. Transfer to a jar, cap tightly, and refrigerate for up to one month. Use at room temp in recipes or as a condiment.

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