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 Post subject: Nam Prik Pao
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:13 pm 
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Posts: 1149
Here's the recipe, Darcie, as well as my experience tweaking it through the years.

I made this the traditional way first, with palm sugar, tamarind, and dried shrimp added, and it was good, but only with Thai or other SE Asian food, and mainly fish or seafood dishes, as the dried shrimp can be overpowering. I tried several recipes before finding Nancie McDermott's Real Thai, with the simple recipe without these added to it. I knew I had something that would be compatible with other cuisines, as the caramelized flavor of the garlic, shallots, and chilis was absolutely delicious, and would go with a lot of things. I figured that if I wanted the sweet and sour flavor, or the dried shrimp flavor in something, I'll just add to that particular dish, and the nam prik pao would be much more useful this way. However, the original recipe called for dry frying all three ingredients in a pan separately, and I figured why do that, if I am going to caramelize them in oil later. So I just minced everything up in a FP, cooked it in the oil, and it worked! However, in the beginning I burned a batch or two, so I had to come up with a temperature limit, and I figured this was, in effect, sugar burning, so I watched the color as the temperature came close to 300º, and took out a spoonful at 280, 285, 290, 295, and at 300º, though at this point it was close to the burning color. 290º was the best flavored one - below was a little less flavored, and the two above were beginning to get a burnt flavor.

As for the best peppers, early on I was using Thai dragons (about 80K SUs) but after I found this recipe I wanted to use more of, they were too hot! So I experimented with peppers from Penzey's (the most available source back then), and added their 40K crushed red pepper flakes in, to see how those would be. Turned out that the sanaam were the best, and not too hot (also 40K), and the 40K crushed red Pakistani peppers came in second in the taste test. The other two - both 60K - were still too hot. Later I tried some crushed red peppers from Sam's (pizza peppers), and they were even hotter, and also had no pepper flavor - just heat - which has been the case with many others I have tried through the years, as I have tried just about every pepper I have grown in my garden that would be mild enough. My absolute favorite is Superthai - a little hotter, but only 45-50K, so enough can be used to get the flavor in the dish, and the peppers have the best flavor in that caramelized state.

BTW, I just made two batches today with new peppers from the garden this year - Jawala and Kashmiri. Both mild - probably around 10K, but definitely not as good in flavor as the others mentioned above. I always try new mild ones, for those who don't like real hot stuff.

Here's a Slideshow, showing it being made step by step.

Nam Prik Pao

4 oz shallots; peeled
2 oz garlic; peeled
1-1 1/2 oz chile peppers; (see note)
1-1 3/8 cup(s) oil
1/4 cup(s) oil; optional
1 tsp salt; optional

A. Place garlic in food processor and chop fine - 1/8" or less. Add shallots and pulse until chopped fine. Remove about 2/3 of the mix to an 8" saute pan, returning any large pieces that may be left behind. Add the whole chiles, if used, then the oil, and process until the chiles are finely chopped, about 2 min. (If using crushed peppers add directly to pan). Scrape into pan and add 1/4c oil + salt if using more as a condiment than an ingredient in Thai food.

B. Mix well and place pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until temp. reaches around 270º, then stir constantly and scrape pan bottom, until temp reaches 290º. Immediately scrape into a metal bowl and let cool.

Note: Use the maximum oil and the salt to make a more liquidy, condiment type sauce. Omit the salt and use 1 c oil for a paste, for cooking with. For the peppers, use whole sanaam (cheapest from myspicer.com) or crushed 40k pakistan pepper from Penzey's Spices. Or, if growing them, Superthai, from Pinetree Gardens, ripened and dried.

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 Post subject: Re: Nam Prik Pao
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:03 am
Posts: 5128
Location: Portland, OR
Dave,

Thanks for the tutorial!

I'm worried, though ... will those photos vanish off photobucket in a few weeks?

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 Post subject: Re: Nam Prik Pao
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:58 pm
Posts: 1149
The photos have been on there for a few years. Slideshows only disappear on photobucket when changes are made, and I haven't changed this at all, and don't plan to.

Here's the first forum I posted this on, with this recipe, and a few Thai Curry Paste Recipes, in case anyone wants them, and the slideshows on this and the concentrated green curry paste are still operating. And this was posted on 12-07-08 (you got me wondering when I did this, so I looked!).

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