This is an ingredient that I'm never without in my kitchen. The classic nam prick pao also has sugar, as well as some dried shrimp in it, which is good, but only something that can really be used with Thai, or other SE Asian foods. This one is much simpler, and with just these ingredients, it can also be used with other cuisines, when something hot is wanted. Many recipes call for toasting the garlic and peppers before the cooking in oil, but that seemed superfluous, since it is all being caramelized!
I first made the classic NPP with Thai dragons - about 80 k in heat, and it was too hot to use in a large amount, to get the flavor. So I searched around for something much milder, and, while experimenting, I found that many of those dried peppers simply didn't have the flavor when caramelized. The best pepper I bought for this was the Sanaam, from Pennzey's, and the second best was the 40k crushed red pepper flakes of theirs! Some friends who still use them, say they are still the same, and reliable from batch to batch.
I use something that I have grown for about 25 years - Superthai, which is about 50K, and has given the best flavor of any in this. This time I tried a new, milder one - an Indian Jayoti (maybe 25-30K?), and it looks and smells like it caramelized very well - only slightly tasted it, as it was still hot, and I just stuck it on my back porch to cool. I'll taste test it next to the old batch later on.
Use the 1 c of oil if you want a dryer batch, to use as an ingredient, and use the 1 1/4 c if you want a more liquidy one, to stir up and use to drizzle on foods.
Nam Prik Pao
4 oz shallots, peeled
2 oz garlic, peeled
1 1/2 oz dried peppers (see note above)
1 -1 1/4c canola or other veg. oil (see note)
Chop up the shallots and garlic in the FP, not too fine - about 1/8-3/16" - and dump in the wok, or an 8" sauté pan. Place the peppers and oil in the FP, and process until there are not large pieces of peppers - 60-70 sec. Scrape into pan, and mix with other ingredients. Cook over medium heat until temp reaches 290º, scraping the pan occasionally, more often toward the end. Immediately dump into a metal bowl, to stop cooking. The color will continue to darken, but it won't burn, since the temp will not go up any more.
Yield: just under 2 cups
Nam prik pao ingredients (plus oil):
, on Flickr
Chopping up peppers and oil together:
, on Flickr
All of the minced up ingredients, with the oil, ready to cook:
, on Flickr