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Spicy Chili Oil Recipe - 1

Thai Nam Phrik Phow or Spicey Chilli Oil, How To Make

When you talk of spicy chilli oil, there is one small clarification that needs to be made. The recipe for a similar spicy chili oil or naam phrik phaow is needed as one of the ingredients for the Tom Yum dish, however that chili oil is a bit different and uses much less oil than the recipe that we show you here. This spicy chilli oil is used to add flavor to many seafood dishes. Some recipes that teach how to make peanut curry sauce and massaman curry also use this spicy chili oil. Since there are two recipes for thai nam phrik phao, we will refer to this as the recipe for Thai Spicy Chilli Oil -1.

thai food ingredients, recipe for cooling naam phrik or thai spicy chilli oil
Thai chilli oil is a very popular ingredient in Thai food. Also known as Naam Phrik, spicey oil is traditionally used to season seafood dishes. A slight variation of the nam phrik recipe that uses lesser oil, is used when it is used as an ingredient to make another very popular thai food dish, Tom Yaam.

Before we disuss this Thai chili oil recipe, let us understand what the exactly the name means in Thai. When you say naam phrik phow - the word naam = water (or basically a liquid), the word phrik = chilli and the word phow = burn or roast.You will notice that the Thai translation for the name of Spicy Chilli Oil does not make any mention of the word oil. Let us now learn how to make this Thai food ingredient, it is not a dish on it's own but is essentially needed to add flavor to a range of Thai food dishes.

Ingredients For Making Spicy Chilli Oil

Tamarind (Ripe)  3 ounces
Water, heated 3/4 cup
Cooking oil 3/4 cup to 1 cup
Dried shrimps 1/3 cup
Garlic 1/3 cup finely sliced
Shallots 1 cup finely sliced
Red chilli peppers 2 to 3 inches 10 chillies
New Mexico chili peppers 4 to 5 dried chili peppers
Plain water 1/2 cup
Sugar 1/2 cup
Fish sauce 5 tablespoons
Creamy peanut butter 1/3 cup

Here are a few explanations for the ingredients used for this Thai food recipe. Ripe tamarind is sometimes referred to as preserved tamarind. When using this ingredient for the Thai Spicy Chili Oil recipe, you will need to soak the tamarind in the hot water for about 30 minutes. This will make the tamarind soft, make sure that the water is not too hot before you put your hands into the bowl. Then use your fingers and press the tamarind pulp, to extract the liquid portion. Use a strainer to hold the pulk and squeeze out whatever liquid can pass through the strainer. You will be left with seeds and twigs that formed part of the ripe tamarind, discard these.

Take the dried Mexican chili peppers and nip off the stem, you will not be needing it for the recipe. Also take off the seeds from the chilli pepers. Tear the pepers into 1 inch pieces. We might tell you here that, the deep red color of the spicy chilli oil is acquired from the New Mexico chilli peppers.

The next ingredient for the Thai Chili Oil recipe that you will need to process is the dried shrimps. We want these to be shred to very fine pieces, you do not need a fine powder though. Put the dried shrimp in a food blender and grind until you have fine pieces. Keeping checking to ensure that the shrimp are not ground too much - remember that we do not want a fine powder. The dried shrimp are going to add a pungent flavor to the nam phrik phao. Keep the ground shrimp aside and continue with the recipe as mentioned below.

Take a pan or wok and heat it over a medium flame, do this when the pan is still empty. Once the pan starts to heat, pour the oil into the pan. Let the oil heat on a slow flame, do not overheat the oil or it might give an unwanted flavor to your spicey chilli oil. Now add the garlic into the heated oil, the garlic will turn transparent when lightly cooked. At that point take off the garlic and put it in a food blender. Make sure that the blender is empty before you put the garlic in. You might have just ground the dry shrimp in the same blender, just make sure that the shrimp is taken out of the blender and kept separately.

You now have the oil in the wok, you do not want this to get over heated. So move swiftly to the next step and put the finely sliced shallots into the oil. Just like the garlic, you will know when the shallots are sauteed to the right degree the moment they appear transparent. At this point your food blender has the sauteed garlic, add the shallots to the blender too.

Once again you are left with just the oil in the pan or wok. You do not want the oil to burn, so reduce the heat slightly. Add the chili pepers to the oil, these include the red chilli peppers and the New Mexican chili peppers. Lightly sautee the peppers in the oil, taking care not to burn them. Once this is done turn off the heat under the pan. Now add the peppers to the blender, you now have the garlic and shallots already in the blender and have just added the peppers to it.

chili oil also known as naam phrik is used to cook thai food dishes
A closer view of the naam phrik thai food ingredient. Some cooks recommend that all the ingredients be ground to a very fine paste in a mixer. In many cases the ingredients used to make Thai spicey chilli oil are not ground very fine - you can see this in the image.

The oil in the pan is now cooling as you have already turned off the heat. If you observe any seeds or other ingredients in the oil, take them off you do not need them. If you do not take these ingredients out of the oil, you risk getting a bitter flavor for your Thai Naam Phrik. This would be a real pity as you have been doing wonderfully until now. Keep the oil aside, you will need it to complete the Spicy Chili Oil recipe.

We will now work with the food blender that already has a few ingredients. If you need to refresh your memory at this moment, we could remind you that the ingredients in the blender at this point are the garlic, shallots and peppers. Let them remain in the blender and we will add a few more ingredients used to make the Thai Spicy Oil to the blender. Before you put anything more into the blender, add the water that we kept for this Thai recipe to the blender. Now grind the existing ingredients in the blender to a fine paste.

Now back to the oil that we left in the wok or pan, remember that the heat has already been turned off on the oil. Pour the paste that you just made in the food blender into the oil pan. Your adventure to cook this Thai food dish is almost complete. You will now add the remaining ingredients reserved for this Thai recipe into the oil pan too. Add the dried shrimp, tamarind, sugar, peanut butter and fish sauce to the oil pan. If you have any more ingredients for this Thai recipe remaining, just read the above paragraphs and check out how they were supposed to be processed and utilized. You can handle those ingredients at this stage.

Once you are sure that all the recipe ingredients have been used, put the oil pan or wok on a medium heat flame. Keep stirring to prevent the thai chilli oil from burning, the mixture will start to become thick and grainy. You will know that the thai spicey chilli oil cooking is complete when a thin layer of oil appears on the top. This should take about 20 to 25 minutes of heating, it is okay if you push the heating to 30 minutes but just remember to keep stirring the mixture.  

If you have used the ingredients in the proportions that we mentioned in this chilli oil recipe, this should make about 2 cups of thai spicey chili oil or thai nam prik phao. You can refrigerate the nam phrik for around 1.5 to 2.5 months. When required to be used, take it out of the refrigerator and bring to near room temperature. Then use a dry spoon and mix it so that the oil on top mixes into the entire chilli oil.

You will notice that we did not add any additional salt into the list of ingredients for making this Thai food dish. Ingredients like the fish sauce already contain sufficient salt. However if the dish that you make uses this chili sauce as an ingredient, check out the flavor and add salt as necessary at that stage. Do not add salt to the list of ingredients to make your naam phrik phao.

If you love Thai food, you will be glad to know that your efforts to make the Thai spicy chili oil will give you longterm benefits! Many Thai food recipes use the thai nam phrik phow as an ingredient. You will save a lot of time by making it just once and preserving it for around 2 months.


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