Thai Relishes, Nam Phrik & Lon Recipes

Studded with small green peppercorns that burst with a mild peppery pungency, this relish is not as spicy as one might expect from a Thai chili relish - nor does the sour taste serve as a noticeable flavor pillar. Instead, a warmer and softer peppery bite, coupled with the aroma of young pepper, delivers a complex kick. The peppercorns, together with the flavorful yellow chilies, wrap the pork’s natural umami and fatty characters and enhance its natural sweetness; this sweetness, despite being placed far in the back and only appearing at the end of each bite, is nicely layered by the use of shrimp meat and palm sugar.

Fish fermentation consists of a simple salt-curing process: mixing or coating a whole fish, sliced fish or minced fish meat with salt and rice husks (or ground roasted rice). The mixture is then allowed to rest and ferment for few months. This fermentation process creates deep, intense umami flavor agents accompanied by a strong stench. It is only with culinary sagacity and skill that cooks are able to harness and direct these powerful flavors within the context of an appetizing dish, and to constrain the odor to an agreeable intensity.

Tom kha is a well-known and much-loved Thai soup: a creamy, soothing coconut blend, a warm, silky broth in which chicken, mainly, is simmered with young galangal, mushrooms, and, at times, charred-grilled banana blossoms. In other versions, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves are added, blurring the boundaries between tom kha and the coconut-based tom yam soup (tom yum kati; ต้มยำกะทิ).

However, in the late 19th century, tom kha was not a soup at all: it was a dish of chicken or duck simmered in a light coconut broth with a generous amount of galangal. The coconut broth added sweetness to the meat, and the galangal helped to mellow the meat odor. It was then served with a basic roasted chili jam as a dipping relish seasoned along the salty-sour-sweet spectrum.

Naam phrik lohng reuua (น้ำพริกลงเรือ) - Literally translated as “boat embarking chili relish”, this particular boat seems to have drifted a long way from port and these days, the actual dish served in Thai restaurants is far away from the original version. We want to tell you the real story behind this dish and to present you with the original version’s recipe in its true character – as if the boat is still moored at the dock.

Lemongrass chili relish - The citrus aromatics of the lemongrass are preserved almost intact and go very well with the peppery aroma of pungent fresh chilies. It is served with a range of blanched vegetables, steamed or fried fish, sweet pork and of course, a bowl of rice - a balanced meal, full of nutrients and health.

I love my food very spicy and I'm very generous with all things chili. People like me who also enjoy spicy food, in part, love it because It's a truly a food & mood issue. Chilies are known to boost endorphin levels in the body and that makes us feel better. Maybe that's the reason why marketers get my immediate attention simply with red packaging and the naughty smile of the devil holding to the brand name logo of their products.

Lon (lohn ; หลน) means in Thai to simmer. In this ancient style dip, minced pork, fermented shrimp paste along with smoked-charred dry fish, chilies and other aromatics are slowly simmered in rich coconut cream to create a deep, multi-layered yet subtle silky dip which is only lightly seasoned with palm sugar and fish sauce. It is served with an array of fresh vegetables and fried, tempura like cakes, of crispy small fishes or of tiny transparent salt-water shrimp. There is relatively little fussing to do here, as one might expect for a dish with so many subtle flavors.

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