I started making my own Thai chili paste so I can enjoy it in my ramen broth. One spoonful of my Thai chili paste makes my ramen a lot more aromatic and intense, and since my husband doesn't love spicy food, I get to make it in advance and store it in the fridge for up to a month. It's quick, easy and lasts for so long. Besides, it's made with good, real ingredients so I know what's in my Thai chili paste, unlike some store-bought options with additives, preservatives and unusual ingredients I don't even recognise.
My Thai chili paste is not awfully spicy, but it is aromatic, slightly sweet and it has a lovely kick thanks to the ginger-garlic combo. I store it in a jar, in the fridge and use it throughout the month for when I make ramen when I cook noodles or need a little pick-me-up spice and aromas in my food. It's brilliant and can't wait to tell you all about the recipe.
To make Thai chili paste you will need just 9 simple ingredients. If you don't have them all in your pantry, you can purchase most of them online or from a local Asian shop. Unlike other Thai chili paste recipes, mine calls for extra hot dried chili flakes. This is also how the original Thai chili paste is made. I find dried chili more aromatic in this particular paste. I tried making Thai chili paste with fresh chillies too, but the result was not as good, in my opinion.
What is Thai chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)
Thai chili paste also called Nam Prik Pao is a slightly spicy, sweet, sour and salty paste which can be used in any Asian inspired dish. It's usually made with dried chili, garlic, sugar, shrimp paste and fish sauce. Of course we are making a fully vegan Thai chili paste and it will still have that beautiful kick as I replace shrimp and fish sauce with tamarind, vinegar, soy sauce and a little mirin.
I also need to stress that Thai chili paste should be confused with Thai chili jam. The Thai chili paste is more watery, a lot more aromatic and has more flavour and spice. The chili jam is sweeter and has a more jelly-like consistency.
How to make a delicious Thai chili paste
First let's look at the ingredients you will need for the Thai chili paste:
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 1 1-inch piece ginger
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili flakes (extra hot)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp tamarind (concentrate)
A few notes, as always to help you alter the recipe according to your own taste. You can add more chili flakes if you really want the Thai chili paste spicy. This level of spiciness tends to be right even for my husband. He doesn't put much in his ramen, but he thinks it's mild and aromatic enough.
You can add more garlic if you want a pungent Thai chili paste. I tried it with 12 cloves of garlic and it was a little too much, but by all means, you can also try it. Less garlic and I think the taste will get lost with the sea of the rest of the ingredients. For me, 8 garlic cloves seemed to be the perfect number.
I don't recommend you add more sugar, because the paste will be quite thick as it is. Adding more sugar will make it too caramelised and you risk having a jam instead of a paste.
Right, let's get started and make this Thai chili paste.
Using a food processor, whiz the garlic, ginger and onion.
In a non-stick pan, combine all ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat the low and simmer for 20 minutes. When ready, add the liquid to a blender and blend until everything is fairly smooth. I tried using a handheld blender but I don't recommend it.
Eat it with:
Place the smooth paste back to the pan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few more minutes until your paste becomes thick and sticky.
Let it cool slightly then move to a clean jar. Store the Thai chili paste in the fridge and use within a month. That's it. Nice, easy and fun! You are now ready to make your own Thai chili paste.
This recipe has been developed entirely by Yuzu Bakes. Any resemblance with other recipes is purely coincidental.