Chile relishes or dips, known as nam prik, are important elements to a well-rounded, multi-dish Thai meal. Served with an assortment of uncooked, blanched, or steamed greens, a spicy nam prik acts as a palate cleanser and refresher—the greens present recent crunch that enhances the sinus-clearing energy of the pounded chiles within the dip. Nam prik ong, present in northern Thailand, is a pork-based relish that balances the candy acidity of tomatoes with savory fermented soybeans and shrimp paste, all of it accompanied by the warmth from pounded dried chiles.
This recipe begins with dried chiles which can be toasted in a dry wok after which pounded to a rough paste in a mortar and pestle with lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and shrimp paste. Charred plum tomatoes, an unconventional addition that imparts additional depth of tomato taste, are labored into the paste for smoky, candy acidity.
The paste is cooked in sizzling oil to bloom the aromatics earlier than floor pork is added to the wok. As soon as the pork is simply cooked by means of, cherry tomatoes are stirred in and coaxed into bursting, giving the combination a saucy consistency and vibrant sweetness, which is balanced by a combination of soy sauce, fermented soybean paste, fish sauce, water, and a contact of sugar. The combination is simmered till it thickens to a bolognese-like consistency after which allowed to chill to room temperature earlier than serving.
The ensuing relish is spicy, bitter, candy, and savory—best for dipping. We suggest serving nam prik ong with an assortment of uncooked greens, cooked jasmine or sticky rice, and a few crispy pork rinds for good measure.