Thai Relishes, Nam Phrik & Lon Recipes

In the Thai language, lon (lohn; หลน) means to simmer. In this ancient style dip, minced pork and 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 and silky – dip; a dip which is then lightly seasoned with just palm sugar and fish sauce. The dip is served with an array of fresh and fried vegetables, tempura-like cakes, crispy small fishes or tiny transparent salt-water shrimp. For a dish with so many subtle flavors, there is surprisingly little fuss.

Relishes are perhaps one of the most ancient forms of Thai food. Served with rice and some fresh vegetables normally picked from fences around the house. However, Thai simplicity is never blend.

nam phrik phao is designed to store well, almost indefinitely, and The Thai touch of ancient wisdom guarantees that besides being nutritionally balanced it is very delicious and clearly possesses its own unique personality.

A dish, like a smell or a color can be so evocative in their place or time. This dish always flys me back to the food stalls of Chiang Mai with its vivid color and tartly savor.

In this fast moving world, it is good sometime to pause for a moment, and to have a dish that emphasis relaxation, and allows you to enjoy a feast of textures and colors, because it is never eaten alone. It is served with a rich plate of accompanying vegetables pleasantly arranged, and with a group of good friends; all sharing the centrally placed bowl of the shiny red relish.

The northeast region of Thailand, bordered with Laos in the north and Cambodia in the east, is a rough land to work. Issan, as it known in Thai, suffers droughts and deficiencies, the land gets really dry and unforgiving making in some area the digging for mineral salt a better business than agriculture.

Issan food is made from bricks of simplicity. It reflects its people coarse life and is in general pungent and hot. Eaten with sticky rice, only very little is required to flavor the rice in the hands of the entire family. I love the rustic Issan food and I own a sincere admiration to their culinary ingenuity.

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