Nam prik gapi is my go to lunch or afternoon snack at home. I made a good amount that can last me a week and is so versatile: mix it into just-cooked rice to flavor it up; have it with fresh or blanched seasonal vegetables, or with plain rice and accompaniments like omelette and fish. It’s a Thai staple food and here I will show you how to make a really quick and easy version of it. What a great way to eat whatever is in season right now – for me that’s wing beans from my Aunt’s farm.

Nam Prik Gapi

You will need:

2 tbsp shrimp paste (toasted over an open flame if you want a smokey flavor)

1-2 tbsp palm sugar or raw sugar if you don’t have it

4 limes

fish sauce

a handful of small green birds eye chilies depending on how hot you can handle

a handful of pea eggplant, picked off their stalks

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled

8 red shallots, peeled and halved

In a mortar and pestle (or food processor) smash green chilies, garlic, and shallots into a paste – no chunks left. Add the pea eggplants, reserving about 6 for garnishing later. Add the shrimp paste and mix in well. Next add a tablespoon of palm sugar and mix in well. Taste to see if salty and sweet are balanced. Next, squeeze in the juice of 3 limes and taste to see if sour, sweet, and salty are balanced. If you need to add the other lime, go ahead. It you feel the dip lacks salt, add some fish sauce, bit by bit, tasting as you go.

Serve with fresh or blanched vegetables like apple eggplant, cabbage, wing beans, carrot, cucumber, okra, and bitter melon.

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