Roasted Red Chili Paste

Nahm Prik Pow


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    1 cup

Appears in

Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore

Southeast Asian Flavors

By Robert Danhi

Published 2008

  • About

This is a common store-bought condiment, usually labeled “Chili Paste in Soya Bean Oil or Roasted Red Chili Paste in Oil.” I consider it a sort of chili jam with its deep roasted flavor, sweet and salty taste, and slightly pungent dried shrimp aroma. With it, you can create deeply flavored stir-fries in a snap. It’s often used a foundation for hot and sour soup, and lends its deep red color to Thai salads. Young people can be caught spreading on white bread as part of a sandwich. I am partial to it with sliced cucumbers!


  • ½ cup Vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried shrimp
  • 1 cup Sliced shallots, about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • ½ cup Sliced garlic, about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • ¼ cup (¼ oz. / 7 g.) Dried red chilies, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 Tbsp. Fish sauce (nahm pla)
  • 2 Tbsp. Tamarind pulp
  • 3 Tbsp. Light brown palm sugar


  1. Soak shrimp in warm water for 5 minutes, drain and dry with paper towels
  2. Brown aromatics: Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat; add shrimp. Cook until they darken, about 2 minutes. Strain; return oil to wok. Reserve shrimp. Fry shallots while stirring often until a majority of edges are deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Strain; return oil to wok. Fry garlic while stirring often until light golden brown, about 1 minute. Strain; return oil to wok. Fry the chilies until lightened in color, about 5 seconds. Strain; combine with shrimp, shallots, and garlic. Cool.
  3. Use a mortar to pound ingredients to a smooth paste or use a minifood processor or transfer shrimp mixture and cooking oil into a minifood processor, and puree until very fine.
  4. Give it a final cook: In a wok, combine shrimp puree with fish sauce, tamarind pulp, and sugar; and boil for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature before transferring to container to store in refrigerator for up to two months.