Nam Prik is to Thai people what ketchup is to westerners. This meaning that it is most commonly used as a dipping sauce. Fresh or grilled vegetables, rice cakes, pork rinds are all dipped in Nam Prik to add a bit of spice and flavor, it is also used to spice up rice dishes, or simply eaten alone with rice. The finished sauce is often similar in the texture to spaghetti sauce and is almost as versatile.
Each region of Thailand has its own special version of Nam Prik, be it Nam Prik Kapi from central Thailand, Nam Prik Kha from the North, or Nam Prik Tai Pla from the South. However, all forms of Nam Prik are prepared in the same way, by crushing together chillies with various ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste using a mortar and pestle. The various versions differ with the addition of extra ingredients such as roasted chilies, garlic, galangal and salt in Nam Prik Kha, and the fermented innards of the short-bodied mackerel in Nam Prik Tai Pla.
Phuket however, has not only one but two of its own unique versions of Nam Prik, First there’s Nam Prik Goong Siab made with green thai chili peppers, garlic, shrimp paste, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and dried shrimps or prawns. And then there’s Nam Prik Pla Ching Chang made with the same ingredients but with anchovies replacing the dried shrimps or prawns.
Most restaurants in Phuket that prepare food to order – as opposed to little shops serving only a set menu – make Nam Prik Goong Siab, and you can order this menu from them. It is usually eaten with a variety of fresh or steamed vegetables, and many Thais will say that you haven’t been to Phuket if you haven’t eaten Nam Prik Goong Siap!
Nam Prik Goong Siap is not only very easy to eat, it is also very easy to make at home and here is our recipe should you wish to give it a try:
Ingredients for 4 servings
8 Green Thai Chili Peppers
6 Cloves Garlic 2 tablespoons of Shrimp Paste
¼ cup of Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
1/3 cup of Lime Juice
3 tablespoons of Palm Sugar
10 Whole Large Dried Shrimp
1. Place the chilies, garlic and shrimp paste in a mortar and mash with a pestle till the garlic is crushed and combined with the other ingredients. Add in the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar; gently mash together. Alternatively, use a blender.
2. Add in the whole dry shrimp and combine. Remove to a serving bowl and allow the shrimp to soak in the sauce for about 15 min.
3. Serve as a dip for the raw or possibly steamed vegetables.