Healthy Authentic Thai Food: Shrimp Paste Chili Sauce (น้ำพริกกะปิ)
If you think you’ve already eaten authentic Thai food and you can handle many spicy dishes but you’ve never tried the shrimp paste chili sauce or “Num Prik Kapi,” you probably don’t eat like Thai people yet. Plus, only a few restaurants outside Thailand dare to put this on the menu.
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of “Kapi” or shrimp paste itself. Whenever I open the bottle of it, I need to stop inhaling because of the strong smell.
After making this recipe, I don’t know why I like the remix version so much. That smell is gone instead with garlic and chili aroma. Now, I can eat it all day with my side dishes—fried fish, salad and jasmine rice.
Whenever you have fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuce, Thai eggplants, cabbage, carrots or any green salads, this paste will help you eat more vegetables so that it will be extremely healthy for you.
The ingredients surprisingly reduce the shrimpy smell plus enhance the taste in 3 flavors.
What is shrimp paste?
If you’re familiar with fish sauce, making the shrimp paste is similar.
Saltwater shrimps are mixed with sea salt overnight, then expose it to sunlight for a day. After that, pound it and bask it again for 7 days. Last, contain it in no-air containers.
A quality shrimp paste should smell fishy but not stinky. Also, it should not be too salty because a high-quality kapi should have the right amount of sea salt covering the fermented shrimps.
Fortunately, most imported Kapi or shrimp pastes are certified and checked which I tested eating them ALL(Did I say I wasn’t a fan of it? :p ) There are 2 brands I often use and they’re awesome—”Twin Chicken” and “Pantai” —make a great Thai shrimp chili paste.
What’s the benefit?
Everything we eat should give benefits to our body. The sauce is made from whole shrimp which means you can have real food in a preserved process.
- Shrimps have a rich omega 3,6 in a good fat
- The paste contains full of calcium from the whole shrimp
- It has fresh garlic and chili which helps you reduce cholesterol level.
Even though the sauce itself doesn’t have a significant amount of real protein or carbs but the shrimp paste chili sauce needs a variety of side dishes, such as fresh salad, steamed vegetables, rice, omelet, fish, and more. Also, it is making you eat a lot healthier by promoting your appetite.
How do Thai people eat it?
You will forget about that smell and how it’s made of when you finally eat it with a meal.
The shrimp chili paste sauce is a kind of dipping sauce, but instead of dipping anything in it, we use a middle spoon to scoop the sauce on what we eat to enhance the overall meal.
Here’s the example of what we eat with:
- Fresh raw Thai eggplant
- Fresh cucumbers
- Fresh long bean
- Fresh carrot
- Green leaf lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Fresh green cabbage
- Cha-om omelets
- Eggplant omelet
- Any fried fish—but mackerel is the best
- Jasmine rice or any brown rice
- Steamed broccoli
- Steamed cauliflower
- Steamed snow peas
If you live in Thailand, there will be much more choice of vegetables you can enjoy. However, these are good enough for me to experience eating authentic Thai food while away from home.
How can you make it at home(outside Thailand)?
It’s merely mix up the ingredients below and enjoy the sauce with your choice of vegetables. Or, if you want more stuff to dip with, that’s fine. My recommendation will be fried fish, bland steak, steamed seafood, or anything you want to develop the meal experience with.
For 6 servings
- 2 Tbsp Shrimp Paste (Pantai)
- 5 cloves Fresh Garlic
- 5-10 Fresh Chili (depend on how spicy you prefer)
- 3 Tbsp Granulated Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2.5 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
- Crush garlic and fresh chili with a stone pestle in a stone mortar (or chop by a knife)
- Add sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, then pestle gently
- Add lime juice, adjust how you like it (sourness may vary)
- Prepare Cha-om omelet*
- Get your cucumber, eggplant, lettuce or other salad and warm rice ready, enjoy!
The shrimp paste chili sauce you can make it at ease, but it’s not widely known yet. But, if you’ve visited Thailand and had a chance of asking any Thai people, they will say “yes, I know it” surely and most of them will be their favorite.
The ingredients are now easy to find in Amazon market or any local Asian markets. If you’ve had Thai food and you want to up-level how you eat food initially you should try to create this healthy authentic Thai food for your next meal. Also, try to mix and match your side as you wish. Happy Cooking 🙂