| |

Nam Prik Kapi Recipe (Thai Shrimp Paste Dipping Sauce)

This post may contain links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon, and I receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links. I appreciate your support!

This nam prik kapi recipe is hands down the best Thai shrimp paste dipping sauce you’ll ever taste! You can make this fragrant chili dip in just 10 minutes, a unique Thai cuisine condiment that blends sweet, spicy, tangy, and savory flavors perfectly.

Close-up of nam prik kapi in a sauce cup. Fresh vegetables, chilies, egg, and mackerel are surrounding the chili dip.

Just like nam jim seafood and jeow mak keua, this spicy Thai shrimp paste recipe is easily made with a mortar and pestle.

What is nam prik kapi

Nam prik kapi is a classic Thai chili dipping sauce. You make it by pounding shrimp paste, chilies, and garlic in a mortar and pestle. It’s salty, spicy, tangy, and sometimes a bit sweet, with extra flavors from lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar.


In Thai, nam prik means dipping sauce, and kapi is shrimp paste. (น้ำพริกกะปิ)

Close-up of Thai shrimp paste chili dip in a wooden spoon hovering over a granite mortar and pestle.

Thai food wouldn’t be the same without its tasty side dishes and spicy dips, right? One of my favorites is this nam prik kapi sauce.

You’ll love how versatile it is – you can eat it with rice, fresh vegetables, Thai omelets, mackerel, and lots more. People all over Thailand enjoy this spicy shrimp paste dipping sauce!

What does nam prik kapi taste like

Nam prik kapi has a salty taste from fish sauce and pungent notes from shrimp paste. Then comes the tangy kick from lime juice. You might notice a hint of sweetness from palm sugar, but it’s not too sweet.

If you enjoy a bit of spice, this dip has that spicy-sour flavor. You can adjust the chili pepper to your liking, choosing milder ones or removing the seeds.

Nam prik – Thai chili dips

Nam prik is the term for a collection of Thailand’s spicy chili dips, with lots of delicious variations, like nam prik ong and nam prik noom.

For Thai people, it’s not just a side sauce; we use chili sauces to turn every meal into a feast.

Each nam prik or (nam phrik) variation is a blend of traditional Thai ingredients like fresh and dried chilies, garlic, lime juice, pungent shrimp paste, and umami fish sauce.

Thai woman seated on a bamboo table, working with a granite mortar and pestle.

Traditionally, they’re prepared with a granite mortar and pestle, a staple in every Thai kitchen. The recipes for nam prik kapi are usually passed down through generations, with many Thai households having their own version.

What is shrimp paste

Shrimp paste, a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking, is made by crushing shrimp or krill with salt. The mixture is then left to ferment for several weeks to months. Finally, it’s dried in the sun for a few days to enhance its flavor.

It’s the key ingredient in this spicy relish, called ‘kapi’ in Thai.

Top-down view of nam prik kapi in a sauce cup. Fresh vegetables, chilies, egg, and mackerel are surrounding the chili dip.

Shrimp paste brings a salty, umami flavor and a memorable aroma. It can be quite pungent if you’re not used to it – but once you are, adding a bit of it to your Thai food will make it taste amazing.

Kapi, or fermented shrimp paste, is the secret ingredient that makes our traditional curry pastes like Thai red curry paste and Thai green curry paste come to life with a rich, savory depth. It’s also commonly used in Southern Thai cooking.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Nam prik kapi ingredients displayed on a wooden table with a granite mortar and pestle; shrimp paste, pea eggplants, garlic, lime, fish sauce, palm sugar, and fresh chili peppers.
  • Shrimp paste – In Thai language, we say that this is ‘pa eek’, which translates to the key ingredient. You can source a high quality shrimp paste at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
  • Palm sugar – This natural sweetener adds a rich sweet flavor with a subtle hint of caramel that’s distinct from white and brown sugar.
  • Fish sauce – Use high quality fish sauce, like Megachef, for the best salty, umami-rich flavor. This traditional ingredient of Asian cuisine is made from fermented fish and salt.
  • Fresh chili peppers – Authentic Thai shrimp paste chili sauce is fiery. If you’re not into spicy food, feel free to use less chilies or remove the seeds. For a spicy dip, use bird’s eye chilies.
  • Pea eggplants – Pea eggplants (turkey berry) are the secret charm of this dip, there’s simply no substitute. If you can’t find them, you can simply omit them. They add a nice color contrast and crunch.
  • Garlic Who doesn’t love garlic? It’s the pungent addition that levels up the flavor in pretty much any Thai dish.
  • Lime – Fresh lime juice is a non-negotiable. It adds a zesty / tangy flavor typical to Thai cuisine.

Short recipe video

Cooking instructions

Crushed garlic and chilies in a mortar.

Step 1: Crush garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle.

Nam prik kapi preparation in stone mortar.

Step 2: Add lime juice, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and palm sugar. Stir and mash with your pestle until sugar dissolves and all ingredients combine.

Nam prik kapi ready in a stone mortar.

Step 3: Toss in pea eggplants and gently press them against the side of the mortar with your pestle to crack them open. Give it a final stir and you’re done! Serve immediately.

Kitchenware

  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Granite mortar and pestle

For this nam prik kapi recipe, I suggest using a stone/granite mortar and pestle. This makes it easier to pound down the ingredients into a fine dipping sauce. Alternatively, you can use a food processor, but you’ll lose that authentic touch.

Thai shrimp paste chili dip tips

Use fresh ingredients and the right tools: I highly suggest making nam prik kapi with a granite mortar and pestle, and to use the freshest ingredients you can find.

Taste test: Before serving, make sure to do a taste-test. If it needs more saltiness, add more fish sauce. If it’s too spicy, try adding a bit more sugar.

How to eat Thai shrimp paste dip

  • Start with your nam prik kapi in the middle of a big tray.
  • Fry some mackerel fish until golden (about 3 minutes on each side). In Thailand, these are incredibly popular and often sold at street food markets.
  • Add a bunch of fresh vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, Thai eggplants, yard long beans, broccoli, and carrots. You can go for raw or boiled – your choice!
  • Make a Thai-style omelet like minced pork omelette or cha-om omelette or just boil some eggs.
  • You can also add some street food options like kai tod and moo ping.
  • Don’t forget the rice! Jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice helps balance the strong flavors of the dip.

There are endless possibilities, but what matters most is the people gathered around it, enjoying from the same dish and engaging in conversation. Family time!

Storing leftovers

This condiment remains fresh in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. Seal your bowl or sauce cup thoroughly with plastic wrapper, or transfer it into an airtight container. Afterward, you can choose to eat kapi sauce chilled, or let it come to room temperature.

Did you know

  • Nam prik kapi has been around for centuries, since the Ayutthaya era. In the older days, travelers would carry this spicy delights when they’re on the go. Even my grandmother still takes a bit of this dip with her, along with sticky rice, when she’s out to work in the rice fields.
  • Thai shrimp paste is packed with proteins and essential nutrients like vitamin B12. The chilies boost your metabolism, and ingredients like garlic offer immune-boosting properties. With each tasty dip, you’re not only getting a spice kick, but also a health kick!

Frequently asked questions

Is nam prik kapi spicy?

Yes, nam prik is perfect for spice-lovers. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you can adjust the spiciness by tweaking the number of chilies or removing the seeds.

Where can I buy shrimp paste?

You can find a high-quality shrimp paste at most Asian grocery stores. These days, you can also get them at larger supermarkets or online.

Is nam prik kapi gluten-free?

Nam prik kapi is naturally gluten-free. However, you should always double-check the labeling of your store-bought goods.

Authentic Thai dipping sauces

Loved reading this nam prik kapi recipe? Please make my day by dropping a star rating and/or a comment below! Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Nam Prik Kapi Recipe (Thai Shrimp Paste Dipping Sauce)

Close-up of nam prik kapi in a sauce cup. Fresh vegetables, chilies, egg, and mackerel are surrounding the chili dip.
This family recipe for nam prik kapi, a Thai shrimp paste dipping sauce, is easy to make and delicious with lots of other dishes.
Praew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Sauces, Side Dish
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 3 chilies to taste
  • 1.5 tablespoon limes
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1.5 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup pea eggplants

Instructions

  • Crush garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle.
  • Add lime juice, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and palm sugar. Stir and mash with your pestle until sugar dissolves and all ingredients combine.
  • Toss in pea eggplants and gently press them against the side of the mortar with your pestle to crack them open. Give it a final stir and you're done! Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Serve with steamed rice or Thai sticky rice, fresh or steamed vegetables, eggs, and mackerel.
  • Nam prik kapi remains fresh in your refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating