Appon's Thai Food Recipes

Sauces & Pastes - Thai Recipes

Fish Sauce ( Nam Pla )


Fish sauce is an anchovy or featherback fish seasoning sauce used extensively in Thai cooking. Not suprisingly it has a very strong fish scent and a high salt content. It is used to add salt, but also adds a delicate fish smell to dishes. There are two main types of sauce, in the photo above you can see old fish sauce left and the regular fish sauce on the right. The old fish sauce is only used in cooking whereas the clear distilled product is also used to make dipping sauces.

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Sweet Chicken Sauce (Sweet Chilli Sauce)


This is often misleadingly referred to as 'chicken sauce', and usually has a picture of a chicken on the bottle, however it is a sweet chilli sauce usually served with chicken, or other fried meats. It is used straight from the bottle as a side sauce, you can also add a little boiling water and make a chilli glaze for meats too. If you like chilli you can use this as a dipping sauce for crisps (chips) too!

Oyster Sauce ( Nam Man Hoy )


Oyster sauce is a cooking sauce made from oysters and soya beans. It has a thick texture, shiny appearance and a slight fish taste. It is used to flavour fried vegetables in stir-fry dishes, it gives a soft, slightly sweet, slightly salt, taste to the stir-fry. It is also a good source of magnesium, once opened it can be kept in a cool cupboard, it does not need to be chilled.

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Tamarind Water (Nam Makham)


Tamarind is a sour fruit that is used in Thai recipes to add a sour note to balance a sweet flavour. The easiest way to buy tamarind is in packets as a pulp, in that form it looks similar to pulped dates. The tamarind pulp itself isn't usually used, rather tamarind water is used.

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Pickled Garlic (Water) ( Ka Thiem Dog )


A common ingredient in Thai cuisine, we use both the pickled garlic together with the pickling water. The pickling water is used to add a strong garlic sour note to noodles and soups.

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Salty Soya Bean Sauce ( Tua Jiew )


It may not look pleasant but this sauce is a common ingredient in Thai cooking. In the picture is a Chinese brand of this sauce. It's main uses are for seasoning fried vegetables and it is also used for the base of salty soya pouring sauce.

Homemade Spicy Suki Sauce (Nam Jim Suki)


As requested by a reader, this is how I make Suki sauce when I can't get hold of MK Sauce. The essential ingredient you need is brown soya sauce, the recipe is for medium hot Suki sauce, you can add more or less chillies to adjust that.

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Payang Chilli Paste ( Nam Prick Pa Yang )


Nam Prick Pa Yang is a a chilli paste made from smoked fish, fish sauce, garlic, onions and of course, chilli. This is one of my favorite types of chilli paste, it lasts a year without special preservation and is easily available in Asian grocers.

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Red Curry Paste ( Prik Gang Dang )


Red curry paste is a paste made mainly from chilli, cumin, galangal root and onion. In Thailand we buy it, we don't make it, just like you buy mustard rather than make it from mustard seeds. The best paste is finely ground in a Thai mortar and takes several hours to prepare, so I would strongly recommend you find an Asian grocer who stocks it, or ask your local supermarket if they can get hold of it.
I confess I've never made this paste myself, the following is my mothers recipe, she loves using Mono-sodium Glutamate, but its use is optional.

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Soya Bean Paste ( Taow Jieuw )


You can recognise this sauce from the brown colour and the visible soya beans in it, it is made by allowing soya beans to decay or ferment. There are many brands, in tall and short bottles, this one is Healthy Boy brand. Once opened keep it in the fridge and it will last many many months. It is used to make fried vegetable dishes and for some sauces.

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Red Bean Curd ( Turw Hu Yea )


Another soya sauce, this one is red bean curd and is used to make red soup and other dishes. It is sold in jars, once opened keep the jar in the fridge and it will last a month or two.

Chinese Soup Stock ( Pak Hang Jeen )


These herbs are sold grouped together in packets, to make Chinese style soup stock. You can see the packet shown in the bottom right.

Maggi Sauce


This is made in Germany, and is a very popular seasoning sauce in Thailand. It adds a stronger, more savoury flavour than soy sauce and you will see it mentioned throughout this site. It's also very easy to buy in the west in any supermarket.

Thai Sweet Plum Sauce( Nam Jim Bui )


Plum sauce is also used in Chinese cuisine, the Thai version of it is very similar, but without the artificial colouring that is sometimes added. It is used as a dipping sauce for many fried dishes such as spring rolls, and as an alternative to 'Sweet Chicken-Chilli Sauce'. It keeps for months in a dark cupboard without special preservation.

Jasmin Flower Flavouring ( Glin Mali )


For many sweet dishes we use a floral fragrance to give the dessert a flowery smell. Shown is a typical flavouring used to make this floral fragrance, this one is a bottle of artificial jasmin flavour.

Yellow Bean Sauce ( Tow Jiew Kao )


This is a salty bean sauce made with yellow soya beans. You can see it used to add a salty contrast taste in todays recipe. Once you open the bottle, keep it in the fridge.

Toddy Palm Paste ( Loog Tan Sauce )


This fermented paste made from palm fruit, is bright orange and used to flavour cakes. When you open the jar it has a revolting acid smell, but don't let that put you off, the smell goes during cooking.
To aclimatize yourself, I'd open a jar of old fish sauce, take a deep breath and after that you'll welcome the smell of toddy palm paste!

Old Fish Paste ( Pa La Sub )


You will need this to make the next sausage. It is a spicy old fish paste used in to add the kick into the sausage. We also use it as a side sauce. For the best result, leave it overnight to meld the flavors and oxidize a little.

50 gms Old Fish Sauce and Flesh (Boiled)
2 Tablespoons Faked Chillies
3 Red Onions
5 Garlic Cloves
3 Coriander Roots
4 Kaffir Leaves
10 gms Galangal
10 gms Lemon Grass
1 Teaspoon Sugar
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice or Tamarind Juice

1. Blend all the ingredients together.
2. Leave in the fridge for a day.

Dim Sum Sauce


This is healthy boy brand dim sum sauce, a sharp vinegar like sauce perfect for dim sum. If you can't get hold of it, light soy sauce mixed with vinegar in equal proportions will suffice.

Tamarind Jam ( Ma Kam Gurn )


Tamarind, especially unripe tamarind makes an excellent preserve. It has a very sour flavour, if you reduce the sugar you get a very tart marmalade-like preserve, but here I've included enough sugar to bring it to sweetness. Add the pinch of salt, it improves the flavour enormously.

180 gms Sour Tamarind (Remove the seeds & skin)
100 gms Sugar
5-6 Tablespoons Water
A Pinch of Salt

1. Mix all the ingredients together and blend it until smooth.
2. Place a plate in the freezer, this will be used to test the jam.
3. Put it in a saucepan, and bring to the boil, stirring and boiling to reduce the liquid.
4. We want a thick jam, to check if it's thick enough, spoon a little onto the cold plate straight from the freezer. Let it cool (or put it back in the freezer for a few minutes). Push it with your finger to make sure it's the right consistency.
5. Spoon it into a jar and leave to cool.

Nam Prik


Nam Prik is the name given to chilli pastes that we eat with rice and other dishes. There are many brands and many flavours, in this entry I'm going to take you through some of the more common ones.

Firstly the above one is Nam Prik Mang-da. Mang-da is a large winged insect about 8 cms long that lives in rice fields and is eaten in the East of Thailand. At night it flies around bright lights, making it easy to catch. The authentic paste contains that insect ground up, and more common supermarket brands have an artificial flavour instead.
Like many things mang-da started out as food for poor farmers, but became a more expensive almost luxury food. The 5 Mang-da I photographed in the ingredients section, were more expensive than a full rack of pork ribs.


This one is grilled fish flavoured nam prik. It has a fishing slightly smokey flavour to it with a very dry texture. This one is a personal favorite.


This one is grilled shrimp nam prik, this one is more soft and smooth than the grilled fish one. (It's in a little plastic bag inside the pot.)


This one is hell shrimp, called because it is very very spicy and the spicy hits you immediately and all in one go.


Nam prik red eye, the heat from the spice comes later, giving you red eyes. It doesn't taste so spicy at first.

Mangda Na Essence


I've shown you Mangda before (listed in the Meat Fish Eggs category of Appon's Thai Food - I didn't quite know how to classify it!), the large insects pounded into a chilli-paste and used for flavorings. This is the far less intimidating version, 'Mangdana Essence', an extract or often a synthetic replacement flavouring that you can buy at your Asian grocers.

It comes like this, a tiny bottle of essence with a dropper to be used very sparingly.

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True, natural honey. Not a pure sanitized product, rather a real chunk of honeycomb with bee larvae, some bees and all. You eat everything but the branch it's grown from! There is surprisingly little honey in one of these combs and if you buy them for the honey you'll be disappointed, but Thai's buy them to eat whole.

I've photographed the honeycomb in closeup, below, broken open. You can see there are larvae there, and some dry wax honeycomb behind it. I know that honey is a familiar ingredient the world over, and so you might wonder why I added it to my food blog - I really just wanted an excuse to buy it!

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About Sauces & Pastes

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Appon's Thai Food Recipes in the Sauces & Pastes category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Meats, Fish & Eggs is the previous category.

Thai Rice & Pulses is the next category.

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