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Nam Prik Pao in a bowl with a spoon.

Thai Roasted Chili Paste Nam Prik Pao

  • Author: Suwanee
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Thai Roasted Chili Paste Nam Prik Pao is a savory, spicy, sweet paste used as a condiment or a dipping sauce. The deep-roasted smoky flavors from all the ingredients make this sauce incredibly addictive.




  1. Add the oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan wok or any pan for deep frying; add the shallot slices once hot. Fry the shallot for 3-4 minutes or until the pieces turn golden brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon into the lined plate. Tips* While the oil is heating up, get a plate lined with paper towels to set on the side for transferring the
  2. Fry the dried shrimp in oil next. These cook very fast, so do not cook longer than 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to the plate with fried shallot.
  3. Add the sliced garlic to the hot oil. Garlic will cook very quickly, especially if they are sliced small. (15-30 seconds)Cook only for a few seconds until lightly golden brown. Then quickly transfer it to the plate.
  4. Add the red chilies next, and fry for a minute or less. Transfer to the same plate.
  5. Last, fry shrimp paste until dissolved. The paste will dissolve quickly into the oil. It's ok. It's seasoning the oil for the next step! Remove the pan from heat, transfer it to a heat-proof bowl, and let it cool to room temperature. Turn your vent for this part! Burn a candle or incense afterward to help with the smell. It's worth it, I promise! (:
  6. Let all the fried ingredients cool, then transfer everything to a small food processor. 
  7. Grind everything in the food processor, plus 1/3 cup oil from the pan with dissolved shrimp paste. Grind until oily paste forms, and stop a few times to scrape the sides of the food processor to get a smooth paste. Grind until you are happy with the texture. I like mine on the semi-side for textures. (:
  8. Heat the same skillet or wok with the oil from frying the ingredients over medium heat. Once hot, add the paste from the food processor and whisk all together well.
  9. Time to season the paste next! Add water, sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind, whisk some more and let the paste cook for 8-10 minutes until you get a jammy consistency. Stir frequently to prevent the thick paste from sticking to the pan.
  10. Remove from pan into a glass bowl, let cool, and use immediately. Or store in a dry clean jar or an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks and in the freezer for up to 4 months. 


  • Each ingredient needs to be cooked separately as they have different textures and water content. Some will cook longer than others, and if all ingredients are cooked together, you will end up with a mish-mash of overcooked and undercooked ingredients that will not yield the best result.
  • The order in which these ingredients are cooked is important. Garlic is small in pieces and cooks much faster. We will be reusing the oil for refrying throughout making Nam Prik Pao. If there's any hint of burnt ingredient in the pan, a bitter taste will linger and spoil the chili paste. Use new oil and continue with the last ingredient you left off. 
  • Garlic burns very easily, then turns bitter when frying. When your garlic turns brown, quickly remove it from the oil. 
  • You can skip frying the shrimp paste to reduce the smell and use it in the food processor instead.
  • Burn incense, candles, and diffusers and turn the vent and open windows to release some of the smell from the frying oil and seafood. (: 

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  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Nam Prik Pao, Nam Prik Pao recipe, Thai roasted chili paste, Thai chili paste nam prik pao, Thai chili jam, chili paste sauce, asian chili paste, making chili paste