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Prik Nam Pla Recipe (Thai Cuisine Dipping Sauce)

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Prik nam pla recipe or nam pla prik is a spicy dipping sauce of Thai cuisine with a base of fish sauce. It’s super easy to make with only a handful of simple ingredients. Combined, the ingredients perfectly balance the tastes of sour, salty, sweet, and spicy.

Prik nam pla prepared in a clear glass cup, with fresh red and green chilies, garlic, and fresh lime.

Prik nam pla sauce is often offered at Thai street food stalls, alongside other classic table condiments like Thai chili flakes, white sugar, fish sauce, and prik nam som (chili vinegar sauce).

What is prik nam pla

Prik nam pla is a Thai table condiment blending fish sauce with chili, garlic, sugar, and lime. It’s a staple sauce, adding a spicy and salty note to dishes like fried rice or noodles.


Prik is Thai for chili and nam pla is fish sauce. It’s basically a blend of fish sauce and chilies. You can add other ingredients as per your liking.

A close-up of prik nam pla with chopped garlic, and sliced red and green chilies.

For Thai people, nam prik pla is an everyday staple that we love to pair with just about anything. Whether it’s noodles, Thai fried rice, and pad kra pao, a generous drizzle of this adds spice and a unique flavor.

Thai Fish sauce condiment

Fish sauce, made from fermenting fish with salt, is a staple in Thai kitchens. My grandmother generously adds a big splash of it to just about anything. We use it to add a unique umami and saltiness, distinct from salt or soy sauce.

As for me, I love it with my refreshing summer salads like som tum Thai (green papaya salad), and spicy stir-fries like pad mee korat.

Bottle of megachef premium fish sauce being picked from a shelf.
A bottle of fish sauce, Megachef brand, my personal choice.

If you’ve never tried fish sauce before, start with just a small amount and taste as you go, since it’s quite potent. Megachef is a good brand, and it’s not as salty as some are.

Working in Thai restaurants, we never measured or weighed our ingredients. It’s all about adjusting the flavors as you cook. So, as you’re stirring your sauce, feel free to balance the flavors to your taste.

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.


  • Thai chili peppers – Fresh Thai chilies are chopped into thin slices. Fresh chilies are a key ingredient for making this spicy Thai sauce. If you have a high spice-level, use Jinda chili peppers. You can also use bird’s eye chilies, which are even spicier.
  • White sugar – Sugar is essential for balancing out the spicy and salty flavors. Sometimes, MSG is used instead. Avoid using palm sugar and brown sugar in this recipe.
  • Fish sauce – A staple ingredient in Thai food, essential for its salty and umami flavor. You can source fish sauce at any Asian grocery store and Asian markets.
  • Garlic – Raw garlic cloves are an essential ingredient.
  • Lime – Fresh lime juice adds a subtle tangy note that rounds out the flavors.

Short recipe video

Cooking instructions

Making this authentic prik nam pla recipe is quick and easy. All you need is a small bowl or sauce cup, a spoon and a handful of simple ingredients.

Hands slicing fresh chilies and garlic on a wooden chopping board, with fish sauce, lime, and sugar ready.

Step 1: Thinly slice the fresh chilies and garlic.

Prik nam pla prepared in a clear bowl.

Step 2: Combine all ingredients (fish sauce, fresh lime juice, sugar, chopped chilies, and chopped garlic) in a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture with a spoon for approximately 30 seconds, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Serve immediately.

Kitchenware

  • Mixing bowl and a spoon for stirring
  • Cutting board and a sharp knife

Customize your chili sauce

This classic Thai condiment is spicy. If you’re not into spicy food or would like to customize this recipe to your taste, simply use the tips below.

Nam pla prik in a clear glass cup, with stir-fried fried rice in the distance.

Vegan sauce: Use a vegan fish sauce alternative.

Tanginess: Play around with the amount of fresh lime juice to increase or decrease the sour flavor.

Spiciness: Control the heat by adjusting the chili amounts. Combine red and green chilies for color. Thai chilies like bird’s eye chilies and Jinda chilies are spicy; but if that’s too hot, go for milder chilies like Spanish chilies or jalapeños. Removing the seeds can also tone down the heat.

Sweetness: Adjust the amount of sugar to your desired sweetness level and balance out the flavors.

Saltiness: Fish sauce is quite strong, but you can simply modify the volume to find your perfect salty balance. If you’re new to Thai flavors, start with my recommendation.

Serving nam pla prik sauce

Next time you make stir-fry dishes like garlic pepper pork and pad krapow chicken, remember to try this chili sauce. It’s perfect for spicing up your meals! You can also pour it over plain white jasmine rice or use it to give a tasty boost to dishes like seafood, meat, or pad kana moo krob. It’s so versatile, you can use it on almost anything!

Thai table condiment

Eating out in Thailand, you will find this essential dipping sauce served at nearly every Thai restaurant or street food market you go to. Most restaurants simply put it out on the table, especially those at the side of the road serving quick stir-fries like Thai basil pork belly and Thai basil beef.

Nam prik pla storage

This traditional sauce can be stored at room temperature for up to 2–3 days, you can even leave it out on the table. In the refrigerator, you can store it for up to 2 weeks, sealed or in an airtight container.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What is prik nam pla?

    Prik nam pla is a spicy dipping sauce, a staple in Thai cuisine. It’s used as a flavor enhancer to add spice and depth to Thai food or other dishes. The main ingredients of this Thai chili sauce are fish sauce, fresh chilies, lime juice, sugar, and garlic.

  2. Is prik nam pla spicy?

    Yes, prik nam pla is typically known to be a spicy dipping sauce. It’s often prepared with Thai chilies, which are known for their fiery heat. The spice level can be adjusted to your preference by using milder chilies, such as Spanish peppers, or removing the seeds.

  3. How long does prik nam pla last?

    Prik nam pla can last up to two weeks in the fridge when made with fresh ingredients. Store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh and flavorful, or seal your sauce cup with a plastic wrapper.

  4. Does fish sauce go bad?

    Fish sauce typically lasts for several years when stored properly in a cool, dark place. However, once opened, it’s best to use it within one to two years for optimal quality.

Authentic Thai sauce recipes

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Prik Nam Pla Recipe (Thai Cuisine Dipping Sauce)

Prik nam pla prepared in a clear glass cup, with fresh red and green chilies, garlic, and fresh lime.
This authentic recipe for Thai prik nam pla sauce is ready in less than 10 minutes using just 5 ingredients.
Praew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Sauces
Serving Size 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 chilies add to taste, see notes
  • 4 cloves garlic

Instructions

  • Thinly slice the fresh chilies and garlic.
  • Combine all ingredients (fish sauce, fresh lime juice, sugar, chopped chilies, and chopped garlic) in a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture with a spoon for approximately 30 seconds, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Chilies: If you have a high spice-level, use Jinda chili peppers. You can also use bird's eye chilies, which are even spicier. For a mild sauce, go for milder chilies like Spanish chilies or jalapeños. Removing the seeds can also tone down the heat.

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