Recommended prerequisites: Siamese Chili Relishes – The Professional Chef’s Guide
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Eight ingredients consist of the basic chili relish: fermented shrimp paste (kapi) and garlic, dried shrimp and salt, chilies, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. What follows are detailed instructions for making the basic chili relish.
The flavor intensity and consistency of the basic chili relish are adjusted according to the side dishes and vegetables being served. This relish is the prototype of all fermented shrimp paste (kapi) based relishes, which in turn are made by adding other ingredients, enabling an almost endless range of relishes.
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- 1 1/2 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ) grilled
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 1/2 tablespoon dried shrimp pounded to powder (กุ้งแห้งป่น)
- 4 pieces fresh bird’s eye chili (kee noo suan) (พริกขี้หนูสวนสด)
- 1 tablespoon three colors of chilies – red, green, yellow and chilies (พริกสามสี) (optional) sliced thinly, crosswise
- 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
- Grill the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) in banana leaves. Set aside. (Video: How to grill fermented shrimp paste in banana leaves).
- Rinse the dried shrimp; roast them in a skillet over medium-low heat until they are dry and crispy.
- Pound the dried shrimp with salt in a mortar and pestle until they fluff up. Set aside. Note: The amount of salt correlates to the consistency of the relish you are preparing. Use more salt for thicker relishes and less salt when preparing a runnier relish that is seasoned salty mainly from fish sauce.
Determining the ingredient-based ratios:
- Place the amount of fermented shrimp paste (kapi) you will need on a plate.
- Place equal amounts of peeled Thai garlic next to the fermented shrimp paste (kapi).
- Place the same amount of palm sugar next to the fermented shrimp paste (kapi).
- Increase the amount of palm sugar to compensate for the other salty ingredients (salt and fish sauce).
- Add more palm sugar to allow the sweetness to surmount the saltiness to a sweet-salty flavor profile.
- An overview of the fermented shrimp paste (kapi), garlic, and palm sugar ratios.
Kill the fermented shrimp paste (kapi):
- Add the garlic to a mortar and pestle. Crush the garlic.
- Add the fermented shrimp paste (kapi).
- Pound the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) with the garlic until the mixture is smooth and smells neither fishy nor garlicky.
Mix the relish:
- Add the dried shrimp powder.
- Finalize seasoning the salty element by adding fish sauce.
- Add the pre-measured amount of palm sugar and mix it with the garlic-kapi mixture. Taste and make sure that the flavor profile is sweet-salty to your liking. Adjust the final sweetness and saltiness intensities at this stage.
- Add lime juice and taste until you reach a desired sour-sweet-salty flavor profile; the initial amount of lime juice can start at approximately the same volume of fermented shrimp paste (kapi) used.
- Mix in three color (red, yellow and green) chilies (optional).
- Add bird’s eye chilies and lightly bruise them with the pestle until the relish reaches the desired level of spiciness.
- If necessary, dilute the relish with water or stock to the consistency suitable for the side dishes and vegetables being served.