“Nam Prik” literally means “chilli water” but I think they’re usually called “chilli pastes / dips” in English and they’re a classic part of traditional Thai cuisine. It’s not easy to find vegetarian “Nam Prik” as they usually include fermented fish / fish sauce etc however if you make your own they make a delicious and healthy meal served with a variety of fresh / seamed vegetables and sticky rice.
So how do you make it? First you need to BBQ your aubergines, chillies and shallots. For the best / authentic taste do this over charcoal. Normally I use long Thai aubergines (green or purple) but I had some large aubergines, that are more common outside Asia, so I used these. You need to roast them till the aubergine becomes soft and until everything is charred on the outside. The aubergines take lonest so put them on first.
While they are roasting you can prep the other ingredients. I like to add mushrooms to my dip and I boil / poach them in hot water for a few minutes then chop them up into small pieces. I also add ground roasted sesame seeds which give the dip a nice nutty flavor. I dry roast these in a pan and then grind them with my pestle and mortar. You’ll also need some coriander leaves, a squeeze of lime (optional) and some soy sauce.
You can also prep the veg that you’ll serve with the dip. I steamed some white cabbage a sprouting broccoli and chopped up some fresh cucumber. I also hard boiled some eggs which go really well with this dip if you eat eggs. While I was preparing my dip I also steamed some sticky rice on the BBQ as the coals were still hot. Confession… It’s the first time I’ve cooked sticky rice myself! Our BBQ is a traditional Thai stove which our friend P’ Paew gave us it’s great, really retro. When Thai friends come to our place hey often say their gran had one when they were a kid.
Standing over a BBQ in the Thai summer is thirsty work so I decided to have a drink to cool down. All work and no play… And what is the ubiquitous Thai drink of choice? A whisky soda! While enjoying my drink I sliced up the roasted shallots which literally popped out of their charred skins. They were slightly caramalised and smelled lovely. I also peeled and chopped up the aubergines and chilles.
Next step… another whisky soda! I blame my mum who always has a drink while cooking the evening meal and I thoroughly approve of “cooks nips”! But you’re probably wondering is this meal ever going to get to the table. While drinking my whisky soda I finished the aubergine dip. I put the chillies and shallots in my mortar and pounded them a bit and the added the mushrooms and pounded some more. Then I put in the aubergine, coriander leaves, sesame seeds, light soy sauce, a couple of glugs (probably a tablespoon) and a small squeeze of lime. I pounded some more… you need to combine everything but its nice to keep some texture in the dip too (a bit like making guacamole). Something like this…
While it’s still in the mortar you should taste your dip and adjust the flavor. I added some more soy sauce and also some dried chilli powder as although I’d roasted five large chillies and put them all in the dip it wasn’t spicy enough. You can adjust the flavours to your own taste.
Finally, I deep fried some tofu to serve with the dip too to make it a more substantial meal. It’s best enjoyed eaten with you hands just roll a ball of sticky rice a and scoop up some dip, or scoop up some dip with a veggie of your choice. This is a great meal for sharing with friends. Tell them to brig the cook’s nips!