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Northern Thai Dip Nam Prik Ong -Suwanee’s Kitchen

Nam Prik Ong – Spicy Chiang Rai ‘Bolognaise’ sauce or dip

 

This dish is a specialty of North Thailand. A Chiang Rai menu wouldn’t be complete without it.

It’s best described as a “Thai pork bolognaise”, although that short-changes both the Italian and

Thai cuisines in its generalization.

It gets used a few different ways. Most common is a dip, where it gets surrounded by

healthy greens, raw vegetables and usually some  crunchy pork crackling known as ‘kap moo’.

The other main use is for “kao soy nam kua” – the Chiang Rai and Laos version of rice noodle soup.

Like any rustic regional cuisine, the ingredients are readily available, either grown in the backyard,

or picked up inexpensively and bursting with goodness at the many street stalls that spring up

mid afternoon in every village around Chiangrai.

This dish is a specialty of North Thailand. A Chiang Rai menu wouldn’t be complete without it.

It’s best described as a “Thai pork bolognaise”, although that short-changes both the Italian and

Thai cuisines in its generalisation.

It gets used a few different ways. Most common is a dip, where it gets surrounded by

healthy greens, raw vegetables and usually some  crunchy pork crackling known as ‘kap moo’.

The other main use is for “kao soy nam kua” – the Chiang Rai and Laos version of rice noodle soup.

Like any rustic regional cuisine, the ingredients are readily available, either grown in the backyard,

or picked up inexpensively and bursting with goodness at the many street stalls that spring up

mid afternoon in every village around Chiangrai.

Nam prik ong mortar and pestle

In Chiang Mai, this dip is traditionally served with an assortment of fresh vegetables, crispy fried pork skins, and sometimes even sai oua.  Yes, that’s right, three different forms of pork all in one appetizer…. This alone explains so much about the boyfriend’s taste preferences!

Nam prik ong with vegetables

For the appetizer contest though, I decided to place smaller bites of nam prik ong onto cool slices of cucumber and then top them with a piece of fried lotus root for a little extra flair.  To make this garnish, just slice peeled lotus root into 1/8″ slices with a mandoline and then cut one slice into quarters.  Keep the pieces in water until you’re ready to fry them, then pat dry, fry over medium to medium-high heat until just golden, and sprinkle with salt once they’re done.

The fried basil was the boyfriend’s idea.  He plucked some of the baby Thai basil leaves from the very fragile plants I’ve been coaxing to grow on my patio and fried them over low heat until just crispy.  I wasn’t too happy when he came in with a handful of these delicate leaves, but I have to admit they do add a nice touch to the appetizer…

Nam prik ong 2.1
Since we had an entire lotus root and had only used one tiny slice for the appetizer garnish, I decided to make a batch of lotus root chips for a “Thai-inspired chips and dip” as well.  Although it’s not traditional by any means, this was also a delicious way to eat nam prik ong.

3-1
This dip is such a versatile and flavorful dip that you’re really only constrained by your own creativity.  So try it and see for yourself!  Whether you eat it with fresh vegetables and crispy pork skins, as cute little cucumber appetizers, Thai-inspired chips and dip, or however else you can imagine – it’s sure to be absolutely delicious.

 

Recipe for Nam Prik Ong Cucumber Appetizer

Yields 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 small dried chili peppers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon yellow bean sauce
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
  • 1 chilled cucumber, sliced
  • fried lotus root pieces and fried basil leaves

Instructions:

  1. Rehydrate the small dried chilis in water for 10-20 minutes.  Once they are soft, chop each chili into 4-5 pieces to make it easier to grind them later.  Rinse the yellow bean sauce with water as well to remove the salinity.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, make the paste.  First add salt and the rehydrated chilis and pound until somewhat smooth.  Then add the shallots, lemongrass, and half of the garlic and pound again.  Next add the rinsed beans and tomatoes and smash until most of the tomatoes are a paste, but a few are still have a recognizeable shape.
  3. Heat 1-2 teaspoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the other half of the chopped garlic until almost golden brown, then add the chili/tomato paste you just made.  Cook this for 2-3 minutes and then add the ground pork.  Cook until the meat is done and do a taste-test.  If it needs a little more salt, add a teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
  4. Place a spoonful of this dip (while still warm) on a slice of cool cucumber.  Garnish with a quarter of a fried lotus root chip and a fried basil leaf for a little extra flair.

Other uses?

Why not do something similar to the Khao Soy Nam Kua?

For 2 people you’ll need:

  • 1 litre Stock or broth. (chicken or pork. Or boiling water & stock cubes if you really must)
  • 300g        2 serves – Thick flat rice noodles (to be authentic. Other noodles will be fine)
  • 200g Nam prik ong (1 heaped serving spoon per bowl)
  • 1/3 cup Freshly cut coriander
  • 1/3 cup Freshly chopped spring onion
  • 2 tbsp Fried garlic (optional but the sheer taste is an aphrodisiac)
  1. Blanch the noodles and whack them into two big serving bowls
  2. Ladle the broth over them
  3. Top with nam prik ong
  4. Garnish with chopped coriander and spring onion
  5. Put some fried garlic over the top
  6. Transport yourself mentally to a street stall somewhere near the Mekhong.

For the non-soup aficionado:

Grilled prawns with nam prik ong dressing

Why not pan fry, grill or barbeque some fat, juicy fresh prawns,
and use the nam prik ong as a dressing, like one a creative Isaan chef from my Thai restaurant?
Great idea, and it works a treat.
Have a great day, pork-munchers.

Can you give me any other suggestions for funky ways to use this great dip?

 

 

 

Suwannee Thai Cooking Class Chiangrai Thailand

The cooking class at Suwannee is an ideal home-style learning environment that is different from most of the opportunities in the hotels and restaurants in Thailand. Not will you be only watch and participate in the cooking of a number of traditional Thai dishes; also as part of our course we visit a local market to learn about local exotic fruits and vegetables, there is always an abundance of new things to see……and taste!

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Posted by on Sep 30 2011. Filed under Food By Suwannee. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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