Cooking wise, Thailand is a very regionalized country - and Thai food can be split into 4 distinct and very different categories:
- Southern (The spiciest)
- Central (Bangkok)
- Isaan or North Eastern Food (Many would argue the finest!!!)
- Northern Thai (Food with Burmese influence)
Here is a recipe for Northern Thailand's famous red minced pork nam prik. A spicy pork based dipping sauce for raw and steamed vegetables and one of Northern Thai cooking's signature dishes.
Although the dish is traditionally made spicy, those with tamer palates may choose to omit or reduce the chili as desired.
Nam Prik Ong Recipe (A Starter for 4)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 4 plum tomatoes
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 5-6 small shallots (A half red onion in slices can be substituted if shallots are unavailable
- 1 Tbls vegetable oil or neutral oil of your choice
- 3 Tbls fish sauce
- 1- 1 1/2 Tbls of sugar
- 1 key lime or ½ of a larger lime
- 20 Thai bird chilis (or less if you don't care for mouth fire)
- ½ cup of water
- Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. When pre heated, toss in your whole tomatoes to dry roast them (No oil is needed) Let cook turning occasionally until cooked through and browned/blackened all over – 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and set aside
- Repeat the same dry roasting procedure with the shallots, chilis and onions. Again, remove and set aside.
- Add the pork to your skillet (if it is too blackened, get a new skillet fired up) and cook through.
- In a mortar and pestle, squish squash the chili, shallots and garlic very well (you may use a blender if you don’t have a mortar and pestle here). When well smashed up, add in the tomatoes and squish them up too.
- Throw another heavy skillet on the stove top, and heat it up to medium high. When hot, add in the Tbls of oil and the pork, the chili-tomato-garlic-shallot paste, and the remaining ingredients, the water, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.
- Heat it all up to a vigorous boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until it is well combined and uniform, and has the consistency of a thick Bolognese pasta sauce.
- Taste for seasoning and serve with fresh cut slices of cucumber and wedges of crisp cabbage (pork rinds are also a traditional accompaniment.
This works very well as an appetizer before a Thai style or better yet, a Northern Thai style dinner. Enjoy!
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John D Lee (author) on April 14, 2009:
Hi Anonymous Foodie,
I live in Chiang Mai too (small world eh!) - and I have had red nam priks that have reminded me of almost a bolognese sauce, to ones that have made eyes water. I like the spicier ones, but I bet that a lot of people would also love a less spicy version. Do you have a recipe you can share?
Anonymous Foodie on April 14, 2009:
Nam Prik Ong is normally not this hot. I live in Thailand (going on 9 years), and have lived in Chiangmai for more than one year. I ate nam prik ong regularly, love it, and know it well. It should have coriander leaves and green onion in the recipe. Sometimes northerners like to add a good pinch of yellow turmeric.
This recipe is more like a cross between nam prik gapi (due to the heat level) and nam prik ong. My vote is that it is not authentic.
Chef Jeff from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago. on November 29, 2008:
Yummy! Love that Thai cooking! And here's a new recipe to add to my growing collection! Thanks so very much! OK, it's off to the kitchen for me......
Chef Jeff T.