Despite its name, jungle relish has nothing to do with wild animals or exotic ingredients foraged from a tropical forest. Made up from the most basic ingredients, this relish was described in Favorite Dishes, written by Princess Jongjittanom Dissakul (อาหารของโปรด ของหม่อมเจ้าจงจิตรถนอม ดิศกุล) and, in fact, is quite similar to another recipe, gabpi phlaa (กะปิพล่า), found in the book.
Both jungle relish and gabpi phlaa are prepared by mixing the ingredients in a bowl without “killing” the fermented shrimp paste (kapi); the “killing” refers to the mellowing of the kapi’s smell when it is pounded with garlic using a mortar and pestle. The Southern-style relishes naam phrik jo:hn (น้ำพริกโจร) and naam choop yam (น้ำชุบหยำ) are also prepared by mixing; however, unlike the Southern relishes, the jungle chili relish contains bitter orange.
Perhaps serving the fermented shrimp paste with its aroma undisguised – skipping the pounding and the subsequent “killing” of its smell with garlic – produced a rough and rustic-looking dish; hence the aristocracy-coined name, ‘jungle relish’.
Mom Rajawongse Kukrit Pramoj, a food guru and scholar, as well as a former prime minister of Thailand, presented the same recipe as Princess Dissakul did for jungle relish, in his book dedicated to chili relishes. Other versions of the relish exist though, notably that of Princess Jancharoensiri Ratchanee (หม่อมเจ้าจันทร์เจริญศิริ รัชนี จ.จ.ร.), which deployed roasted dried chilies and dried lizard meat, a once-common ingredient. The National Council of Women of Thailand published another version that added hairy-fruited eggplants (มะอึก) and salacca.
- Fresh vegetables,
- Grilled catfish,
- Fried fish.
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- 3 tablespoons shrimp (กุ้ง) grilled and shredded
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ) grilled
- 1 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon shallots (หอมแดง) thinly sliced
- 4 pieces fresh bird’s eye chili (kee noo suan) (พริกขี้หนูสวนสด) thinly sliced, crosswise
- 1 tablespoon fresh yellow chili (phrik leuang) (พริกเหลือง) thinly sliced, crosswise
- 1/2 tablespoon bitter orange (som.saa)(ส้มซ่า) diced into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1 3/4 tablespoons palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
- 1 tablespoon water or stock (น้ำเปล่าหรือน้ำสต๊อก) as needed
- fresh vegetables (ผักสด)
- grilled catfish (ปลาดุกย่าง)
- Grill the shrimp and shred its meat into thin threads.
- Measure the amount of fermented shrimp paste (kapi) and palm sugar, following the ratios of a basic chili relish recipe (น้ำพริกกะปิมาตรฐาน). Arrange the ingredients next to each other so you can visualize their proportions.
- In a bowl, mix all the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) and grilled shrimp meat.
- Taste and season with salt and fish sauce. Once you are satisfied with the saltiness of the relish, add the palm sugar at the ratio indicated. Season to a sweet-salty flavor profile.
- Season with a sour leading flavor profile using lime juice.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.