Nam Prik comes in many different colours, consistencies and textures. The traditional way of preparing the paste is by pounding chillies, garlic, shrimp paste, shallots and lime juice in a pestle and mortar usually with some kind of fish.
Salt and fish sauce are added to taste and then hot water to change the consistency.
Some can be very liquidy and others dry and thick. Some are red. Some are green. Some can be eaten by the spoon and others scooped on a cracker. It is a delight to try each one and see the differences. In fact, according to a recipe book published in 1974, there are over 100 recipe variations!
Nam Prik is very popular in Thailand and every family will have their own recipe depending on the province. It has been an integral part Thailands culinary legacy.
The first western written example was by French Ambassador to the court of Ayutthaya, Simon de la Loubère (1687–88), who wrote of “a mustard-like sauce with crayfish corrupted (fermented fish) which they called Kapi.”
Still to this day, Nam phrik Kapi is one of the most widespread types and is typically found in central Thailand, although not with crayfish. This variety has the addition of fermented shrimp paste and often pea eggplant.
Like we mentioned before, Nam prik is more an accompaniment to a dish and will be served with boiled vegetables like cucumbers, Thai eggplant, Thai bitter melon, cauliflower, longbeans and cabbage. Often it will be served with boiled/ salted egg and rice or sticky rice.