I have a fabulous post to share with you about the meal I made for Christmas Day–but it will take a moment to organize, especially in the recipe department. I wanted to get something out in the meantime, and this simple, short post about nam prik pao, or Thai chili jam fits the bill perfectly.
Nam prik pao is a really tasty Thai condiment. It is made sweet by caramelized shallots and some sugar, salty and savory from shrimp paste, and spicy–to varying degrees–from chile peppers. In Thailand, I think they use it on just about anything; in my limited experience I have used it in soups and on rice. She Simmers has a great post on how to make it if you are so inclined, but here is the thing about nam prik pao: it is kind of a pain in the butt to make, especially when you remember it is a condiment so you are already cooking something else for dinner.
So I have spent the last 10 years avoiding it. I just felt like I had to make it–every Thai cookbook that referred to it also gave a recipe. And cooking from a culture that you are not from leads, at least for me, to an almost obnoxious purism. After all, I am not Thai, I don’t always have a way of knowing when something commercial is an acceptable substitute. And because I love and am respectful of the cuisines I am interested in, I am always interested in trying to make things as authentically as possible, at least the first time.