Nam prik num (Thai chilli dip)
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Nam prik num (Thai chilli dip)


Susan says

At many restaurants in Thailand, part of the menu will be devoted to nam prik chilli sauces. These can be wildly different, ranging from mild to fiery, subtle to pungent, and made with a huge variety of ingredients including meats, seafood (fresh and dried) or vegetables. What they all have in common is that they are served as a dipping sauce or paste accompaniment to vegetables, meat or seafood.

Nam prik num is made with eggplant that's grilled and pounded to a paste. I like to serve it with vegetables, pork cracklings and grilled pork sausages, preferably sui oua - a spicy, fresh pork Thai sausage.

If you can’t find large Thai chillies called for in the recipe, use a mild variety (such as banana chillies) and bump up the heat by adding green bird’s-eye chillies.

For the best flavour, the eggplant and other vegetables are cooked over charcoal, but it's almost as delicious when they are charred under the oven grill.

400g (14oz)
Chinese or Japanese eggplants
large hot green Thai chillies
garlic cloves, peeled
shallots, peeled
20ml (4tsp)
fresh lime juice
30ml (1tbsp
fish sauce
5g (⅙oz)
palm sugar (or granulated sugar)
fine sea salt
To serve (use as many as you want)
Romaine lettuce leaves
carrot sticks
celery sticks
blanched string beans
blanched okra
pork crackling pieces
grilled pork sausages, preferably sai oua, sliced into bite-size pieces

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Heat the oven grill to high. Place the eggplants, chillies, garlic cloves and shallots on a shallow tray and slide it into the oven so the vegetables are about 2cm (⅞in) from the heating element. Grill the vegetables until the eggplants and chillies are soft and deeply and evenly charred, while the garlic cloves and shallots should be burned in spots. Turn the vegetables over so they cook evenly, and take them out as they are done (the eggplants and chillies will take longer).


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When the eggplants and chillies are cool enough to handle, strip off the skins (it’s OK if some of the skin doesn’t come off). Discard the chilli stems and seeds


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Roughly chop the eggplants, chillies, garlic and shallots, then place them into a mortar and pound to a paste. (Or use a food proces­sor, but don’t overprocess – it should be a rough paste.)


Mix in the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and salt. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.


Spoon the nam prik num into a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature with the sausages, pork crackling and vegetables of choice.


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