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Authentic Nam Prik Ong Recipe

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This authentic nam prik ong recipe makes a delicious Thai pork and tomato dipping sauce that comes straight from Northern Thailand, specifically Chiang Mai. It’s very tasty with fresh or steamed vegetables, sticky rice, and crunchy pork cracklings. Definitely give it a try if you love Thai food!

Close-up of nam prik ong, a Northern Thai pork and tomato dipping sauce.

If you love Northern Thai cuisine, then you’ll want to bookmark the classic chicken khao soi and the roasted chili dip, nam prik noom, for later! Keep reading for the best insider tips on this Thai tomato and pork sauce recipe, or skip straight to the instructions below.

What is nam prik ong

Nam prik ong is a traditional Northern Thai dipping sauce made with ground pork, tomatoes, fish sauce, and chilies. It offers a savory, meaty, and lightly sour and spicy flavor, ideal for dipping vegetables and sticky rice.


Here’s a breakdown of each word translated to English for better understanding:

  • Nam (น้ำ): Water or liquid
  • Prik (พริก): Chili
  • Ong (อ่อง): Is used to refer to this specific Northern Thai chili dip.

It can also be written as nam phrik ong and num prik ong. My husband and I often refer to this sauce as “Chiang Mai sauce,” although this isn’t its official name!

Thai pork and tomato dipping sauce

This Northern Thai dip is one of my absolute favorite pork-based relishes. It’s like a Thai-style bolognese sauce with minced pork, ripe tomatoes, and the heat of spicy chilies – so delicious!

Hand dipping pork rinds into Thai nam prik ong sauce, a Northern Thai dipping sauce with minced pork and tomatoes.

To make a Thai pork and tomato chili dip, we traditionally use a mortar and pestle to mash the ingredients into a paste or sauce, much like how Thai red curry paste is prepared.

This nam phrik ong recipe starts with making a spicy red chili paste using dried chilies, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste. This paste is the heart of the dish, mixed with juicy ground pork and Thai seasonings for extra flavor.

Nam prik ong close-up. A bright red sauce with tomatoes and pork meat.

Then, grilled tomatoes are added to turn the mix into a rich Thai spicy pork dipping sauce that’s perfect for family gatherings and parties, even the kids will love it!

As for the flavors, expect a perfect mix of spicy, savory with just a touch of sweetness and tang.

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.


Ingredients for nam prik ong: ground pork, chilies, garlic, fish sauce, tamarind paste, shallots, water, salt, shrimp paste, and tomatoes.
  • Pork – Minced pork brings a rich, meaty flavor that’s essential for this traditional Northern Thai sauce.
  • Tomatoes – Small red tomatoes or cherry tomatoes add a juicy sweetness and slight tang, which balances the spicy and savory flavors.
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Tamarind pasteTamarind paste is a tangy and slightly sweet concentrate used in Thai food to add a sweet-sour flavor.
  • Shrimp paste – This staple in Thai cuisine adds umami. If you’re not used to the flavor of shrimp paste, feel free to more or less add to taste.
  • Palm sugarPalm sugar adds a rich, caramel-like sweetness that’s different from white and brown sugar.
  • Fish sauceFish sauce is a salty, fermented condiment that’s popular in Thai cooking for its umami and depth.
  • Water – Essential in achieving the right dipping sauce consistency.
  • Large dried chilies – Large dried chilies, like dry red spur chilies, add a moderate amount of heat.
  • Small dried chilies (optional) – Small dried chilies can be added if you like a spicy dipping sauce.
  • Oil – Use a neutral oil with high smoke point, like canola oil or vegetable oil.

Note: The main ingredients in nam prik ong are ground pork, tomatoes, and dried chilies. The additional ingredients can vary greatly depending on the region in Thailand or family recipes, as some may include more spices or different seasonings.

Short recipe video

How to make nam prik ong

  1. Close-up of dried chilies in water.

    Step 1: Start by halving the large dried chilies and soak them in room temperature water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Allow them to soften for about 30 minutes and drain them afterward. This extra step is to ease the pounding process.

  2. Red chili paste prepared in a stone mortar.

    Step 2: Use a granite mortar and pestle to pound the pre-soaked chilies, optional small dried chilies, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste into a smooth, fine paste.

  3. Red chili paste cooking in wok.

    Step 3: Heat oil in your frying pan over medium heat. Add the freshly made paste and stir fry for approx 1 minute, until fragrant.

  4. Minced pork sauce cooking in a wok.

    Step 4: Add ground pork, stirring and cooking until the meat is thoroughly cooked, about 1–2 minutes.

  5. Step 5: Stir in tamarind paste, fish sauce, salt, palm sugar, and tomatoes. Cook until palm sugar has completely dissolved, and the tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

  6. Nam prik ong sauce cooking in a wok.

    Step 6: Lastly, pour in water and let the red sauce simmer for 1 more minute, or until the sauce has the consistency of a tomato sauce/bolognese sauce for spaghetti. Serve hot and enjoy!

Kitchenware

  1. Measuring spoons & cups
  2. Cutting board and a sharp knife
  3. Bowl (for soaking large dried chilies)
  4. Thai mortar and pestle
  5. Wok or cast-iron skillet with spatula

Ground pork dip recipe tips and tricks

  • Use a granite mortar and pestle: A stone mortar and pestle is best for making Thai pastes and sauces like this nam prik ong. I do not recommend using a food processor, since the texture and flavor will be better with a mortar and pestle.
  • Choose ripe tomatoes: Select juicy, small tomatoes for a naturally sweet and gently tang flavor.
  • Adjust the spice level: The small dried chilies can add extra heat if you like a spicy version of this Northern Thai sauce.
  • Soak the chilies: Soak the large dried chilies to soften them, making them easier to crush into a paste.
  • Taste test: Before serving, adjust the amount of fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind paste to balance the salty, sweet, and tangy flavors to your taste.

How to eat nam prik moo

This nam prik dipping sauce is best served with an array of side dishes:

  1. Arrange a large serving plate with raw vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, lettuce, Thai eggplants, green beans, and yard long beans. Raw or cooked.
  2. Place the pork and tomato dip in the center.
  3. Serve with a side of Thai sticky rice or steamed jasmine rice.
  4. Complete with a portion or pork crackling (fried pork skins) like these hot and spicy pork rinds, a popular addition in Northern Thailand. This is the best dip for pork rinds you’ll find!
Nam prik ong, a Thai pork and tomato sauce, served with vegetables and pork cracklings.

How to store leftover sauce

Storing: Let your leftover sauce cool to room temperature and transfer it to an airtight container. The leftovers will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Reheating: Enjoy the pork chili sauce leftovers cooled, or reheat in a pan over low heat until warm.

Frequently asked questions

How spicy is nam prik ong?

Nam prik ong has a mild to moderate level of spiciness, depending on the recipe, which can be adjusted to taste. The heat comes from the dried chilies used in the chili paste.

Can I make this in advance?

Totally! You can easily make nam prik moo in advance and serve it when you’re ready. It’s great for family gatherings, and you can serve it with a side of fresh vegetables or other side-dishes

Authentic Thai nam prik recipes

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Authentic Nam Prik Ong Recipe

Close-up of nam prik ong, a Thai pork and tomato dipping sauce.
This easy nam prik ong recipe creates a tasty Northern Thai pork and tomato dipping sauce that goes great with vegetables and sticky rice.
Praew
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Dipping sauce
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

  • 6 large dried chilies (dry red spur chilies)
  • 8 small dried chilies to taste
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup shallots chopped
  • 0.5 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups pork minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt + 2tsp for soaking large dried chilies (optional)
  • 1/8 cup palm sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 small tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  • Start by halving the large dried chilies and soak them in room temperature water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Allow them to soften for about 30 minutes and drain them afterward. This extra step is to ease the pounding process.
    6 large dried chilies
  • Use a granite mortar and pestle to pound the pre-soaked chilies, optional small dried chilies, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste into a smooth, fine paste.
    8 small dried chilies, 5 cloves of garlic, 1 cup shallots, 0.5 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • Heat oil in a large non-stick wok pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the freshly made paste and fry for approx 1 minute, until fragrant.
    4 tablespoons oil
  • Add ground pork, stirring and cooking until the meat is thoroughly cooked, about 1–2 minutes.
    2 cups pork
  • Stir in tamarind paste, fish sauce, salt, palm sugar, and tomatoes. Cook until palm sugar has completely dissolved, and the tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
    1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 cup palm sugar, 1.5 tablespoon tamarind paste, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 8 small tomatoes
  • Lastly, pour in water and let the red sauce simmer for 1 more minute, or until the sauce has the consistency of a tomato sauce/bolognese sauce for spaghetti. Serve hot and enjoy!
    1/4 cup water

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Use a granite mortar and pestle: A stone mortar and pestle is best for making Thai pastes and sauces like this nam prik ong. I do not recommend using a food processor, since the texture and flavor will be better with a mortar and pestle.
  • Authentic nam prik ong should be mildly spicy. Adjust chilies to your personal spice level.
  • This Northern Thai sauce is traditionally served with fresh vegetables, sticky rice, and pork crackling.

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