Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Apr 24, 2014 06:05 PM

Help me identify ingredient in Thai chili paste

At a Songkran festival this month, I purchased a deep-red colored Thai chili paste which contains small, black, gummy-textured chunks of something I can't identify. I was told the paste contained fish but no meat ingredients of any kind. From past experience, however, sometimes people forget they used a meat ingredient. Can anyone help me identify this mystery ingredient? The texture is like gummy bears and it's difficult to describe the flavor given then amount of chili in this paste (even after washing). My best guess is dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated and maybe cooked somehow. But I don't know if dried shitakes are used in any Thai food. I also remember the vendor telling me to eat the paste with steamed rice or green beans. I asked if this paste was the nam phrik phao used for tom yum and was told it was somewhat similar, but not exactly that.

Bonus points for helping me identify the name of another sauce I purchased which contains chunks of fish. The color of this one is orangish, it packs a decent amount of heat, and it was available raw or cooked. I liked both, so I purchased raw because I can cook it myself later. This one is also intended for eating with rice.

Google hasn't turned up anything for me. Maybe I'm using the wrong search keywords.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think it is Nam Prik Pao. Did it look like this?

    1. I'll take a wild guess that the chunks are dried tamarind... but it's just a guess.

      1 Reply
      1. "Nam phrik narok" (Thai: น้ำพริกนรก) can contain chopped bits of preserved catfish.

        "Nam phrik long ruea" (Thai: น้ำพริกลงเรือ) can contain finely-chopped (or pounded) dried shrimps *and* pork bits. It's also similar in texture to "nam phrik pao" (Thai: น้ำพริกเผา) mentioned by meatnveg.

        My first impression when reading your post was that it's the common "nam phrik ong" (Thai: น้ำพริกอ่อง) which, in some varietals, contains finely-chopped bits of caramelised pork skin, but you did say that the vendor mentioned no meat ingredients were used.

        1. I finally was able to get some pics uploaded. Thanks for the help so far.

          The first pic is the mystery ingredient. There is some slight sourness so tamarind sounds right. Never used this type of dried tamarind before, usually I reconstitute and push through a sieve.

          The second pic is the label on the paste with fish chunks in it.

          The last pic are the two pastes side by side (paste with fish chunks on left, paste with mystery ingredient on right).