Naam phrik lohng reuua is a relish that was created with ordinary ingredients for a real princess. It is made by frying sour-sweet and salty fermented shrimp paste chili sauce (nam prhrik kapi) together with a salty-sweet pork condiment (muu waan), and adding deep-fried crispy and fluffy fish meat for body and crunch. The resulting taste should be sour-salty and sweet, without any of these flavors taking the lead. They should all be equally present, as a melody that plays harmoniously on the palate.
1 1/2cupsgrilled catfish (ปลาดุกย่าง)from about 2 small fishes
neutral tasting cooking oil (น้ำมันพืช)
Making fermented shrimp paste chili sauce
In a pestle and mortar, pound fermented shrimp paste (grilled in banana leaves with garlic) until you get a smooth consistency.
Add green bird’s eye chilies and bruise them lightly.
Season with palm sugar and fish sauce.
OPTIONAL: Add maeuk
Squeeze lime juice.
Mix these ingredients together.
The fermented shrimp paste chili sauce is ready, set aside.
Making Sweet Pork
Cook the pork belly until it is soft; add a pandan leaf to infuse a pleasant scent into the meat.
Slice the pork meat into small, uniform pieces.
Place the palm sugar in a wok over low heat and stir constantly; the sugar will melt and begin to caramelize.
When the sugar has caramelized and turned a deep amber color, add water and fish sauce.
Let the sugar dissolve in the liquids, and then add the sliced cooked pork belly.
Cook the pork, stirring constantly, until the liquids reduce and the pork acquires a transparent brown shine.
Set the sweet pork aside.
Making fluffy crispy fish:
Charcoal grill a whole catfish over low heat until dry. The process is described here.
Remove the meat from the fish; discard the skin and bones.
With a heavy knife, finely mince the catfish meat. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
In a wide wok, heat oil for deep frying.
Drop about a half-cup of minced fish meat at a time.
Allow the fish to fry until it has formed into the shape of a floating raft.
Flip it over, and fry the other side until it is golden and crispy.
Drain and set aside.
Assembling the dish
Mix fermented shrimp paste chili sauce and sweet pork.
Fry garlic in pork fat until it is fragrant - do not wait until it becomes gold-colored.
Add the chili sauce and sweet pork mix; continue frying and adjust flavors to taste.
Roll raw salted duck egg yolks into small balls, set aside.
How to serve
Mix some of the fluffy fish with the fried chili sauce, place it in a serving dish, and sprinkle with crispy fish, as well as yolk balls, pickled garlic cloves and bird’s eye chili peppers. Serve with fresh vegetables.
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