chilli paste

Green chilli paste

After eating a very delicious garlic chilli chicken curry out on Friday night, last night I made my own version for the first time.

Starting with making a green chilli paste ... I don’t have a small blender so thought I’d try using my spice/coffee grinder and it worked perfectly.

You’ll need:

20 or so thin green chillies

a good glug of olive oil


the juice of half a lemon

Take the stalks off the chillies and blend/grind, then add olive oil, a good ground or two of salt and the juice of half a lemon and grind/blend again.

This will keep for a week or so in a jar in the fridge.

Rachel Redlaw green chilli paste
Rachel Redlaw green chilli paste

I’ll be adding recipes to use the green chilli paste in as I make them!

I did make a garlic chilli chicken curry last night but have a couple of ideas I want to try out with it before sharing the recipe.


Chicken stir fry with chilli paste and Thai basil

So, first the chilli paste in oil, or nam prik pao.  If you like cooking Thai food, you may have a jar of this in the cupboard or fridge already.  

If you don't - and you fancy making it - I've a very simple version that's super-quick to make right here.

nam prik pao chilli paste in oil Rachel Redlaw

You can use the nam prik pao in a tom yum soup, or in this lovely squid stir fry.  It's also just a really versatile condiment and I just might have been known to scoop a little on cheese on toast or have with shepherd's pie too ... 

If you've got some nam prik pao, and you've made the rice to serve with this in advance, then you're basically ready to go - as this stir fry is quick to make.

For two, you'll need: 

cooking oil 

2 cloves of garlic, flattened and chopped

1 chicken breast, minced (in the food processor, or chopped as I prefer to do it)

1 heaped tablespoon chilli paste in oil (nam prik pao)

1 teaspoon fish sauce

some chopped veg (I had red and yellow peppers, a mushroom and a few spring onions)

a tablespoon or so of water

a big handful of Thai sweet basil leaves, or 1.5 teaspoons of jarred Thai basil

dried chilli flakes (to serve)

Nam prik pao stir fry chilli paste in oil Rachel Redlaw

Put your pan on a medium heat and when hot add a good slosh or two of oil and when that's hot add the garlic.

As for many Thai recipes, stir fry the garlic for perhaps up to 30 seconds over a medium heat, making sure it doesn't burn, until it 'smells good'. (Yep, that's the instruction on most recipes!).

Then add the chicken, nam prik pao and fish sauce and stir fry for a few minutes until the meat is nearly cooked. 

Add the chopped vegetables and a splash of water and stir, then add the jarred basil (if using jarred) and cook for another 4-5 minutes until done. 

Nam prik pao stir fry chilli paste in oil Rachel Redlaw

If using fresh basil add right at the end just before turning off the heat and stir in until wilted.

Serve with the rice and with a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes (if liked).

Nam prik pao stir fry chilli paste in oil Rachel Redlaw
Nam prik pao chilli paste in oil Rachel Redlaw

I really love this simple stir fry - I think it has unexpected depth from the nam prik pao.

What do you think?

Spicy stir-fried squid

In my mind I'm at the fishing port of Ban Phe, whiling away the time before the ferry to Koh Samet by having a a very spicy squid dish and squinting in the sun.  An afternoon on beautiful Samet can't really be beaten - silver sand, perfect sea, a cold beer and a Thai massage on the beach under the trees before the speedboat back to the mainland.  Day dreams.

In reality, it's been a really hectic day and I haven't had time to go to the shops so need a store-cupboard dinner - and I want it fast too! Frozen squid rings are a store-cupboard staple for me as they defrost quickly in a bowl of water, changed a couple of times as the ice comes off them, and are then also so quick to cook.

This easy recipe uses the nam prik pao (chilli paste in oil) recipe as well as fresh chillies, just to layer up the heat.  You could make it without the chilli paste too, just add more chopped fresh chillies. You can of course make it with less, but I like this dish fiery hot.

Don't leave out the fresh mint and coriander - they make this simple dish something much more special.

Cook your rice first so that it's ready, as the squid cooks so fast. To save both time and washing up, I just threw some chopped green beans and broccoli in with the rice for the last few minutes' cooking time rather than cooking the veg separately.

Quantities for this dish are really up to you, but to serve two I used:

cooking oil

two cloves of garlic, chopped

one large milder red chilli and two birds eye red chillies, sliced

a 300g bag of frozen squid rings, defrosted

a tablespoon of  nam prik pao chilli paste

a teaspoon of sugar

half - one tablespoon fish sauce to taste

two spring onions, sliced

a handful each of coriander and mint leaves

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid

Chop and slice the garlic, chillies and spring onions, and tear the leaves of the herbs into small pieces so that everything's ready to go.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid

Heat a wok or frying pan and add the cooking oil, swirling to cover and when hot add the garlic and chopped chillies and cook for about 30 seconds over a fairly high heat.

Add the squid rings and cook, stirring, for a minute then add the chilli paste and cook for a further minute.

Turn the heat down a little to medium and add the sugar, fish sauce and spring onions - and cook, still stirring, for another minute until the sugar dissolves.

Take off the heat and stir in the mint and coriander leaves, and serve immediately with rice and green vegetables.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid

Let me know if you make this and if you liked it!


I just made this again without chilli paste but with another couple of fresh birds eye chillies and it was much hotter with just fresh chillies! My eyes are watering and I'm a chilli freak. I also used a mix of prawns and squid and yes it was hot but it was also super tasty - the mint makes it really interesting. This is a very good dinner.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid


Chilli paste in oil - nam prik pao

So good and so versatile - if you like Thai cooking you've probably got a jar of nam prik pao somewhere already.  It's both a cooking ingredient and a condiment. It's used in soups including tom yum, and you can add a small spoonful into all sorts of soups, stir fries and curries or stir it into a fried rice or noodle dish. Once you start using it, you'll be adding this to everything ... shepherd's pie, cheese on toast, who knows?

I have just had a quick snack of some plain rice with a teaspoon of chilli paste stirred through it and that on its own tasted great. For a very quick lunch or supper it works even better with a fried egg on top.

Or instead of plain rice, a quick mushroom fried rice with chilli paste and an egg! Yum!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

This isn't a true nam prik pao which is made from roasted chillies and takes hours and hours to make; its a much simpler chilli paste in oil.  It doesn't have the subtlety and depth of flavour of a true roasted version, but it's easy to make and certainly easy to use.

These quantities made half a small jar ... but a little goes a long way! In a covered jar it will keep  in the fridge for a few months.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

3-4 tbsp vegetable cooking oil

3-4 cloves garlic depending on size, chopped

2 shallots or 1/4 white onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp crushed dried red chillies

1 tbsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder

3 tbsp fish sauce (or 2 of fish sauce and one teaspoon of shrimp paste)

3 tbsp light brown sugar

juice of one lime

2 tbsp water

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and then fry the onions and garlic until light brown and on the edge of going crispy. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan into a separate dish and turn the heat off but leave the oil in the pan.

Mix all the other ingredients together in a pestle and mortar.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Then add the onions and garlic, pounding together (but gently) to break down the garlic and onion as much as possible. It won't combine perfectly and you will still have separate bits of onions, but it combines the flavours.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Put the frying pan back on a low heat and then add the chilli mixture. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and then taste - add more water if it is too thin, more oil if you want it more oily and taste it too for flavour.  I added another tablespoon of sugar and half a tablespoon of fish sauce at this stage. (My next jar, made since this post, I added just a splash of water and half a tablespoon of fish sauce - you really need to taste, taste and taste again!).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Simmer for a further 3-4 minutes until the paste is caramelised, dark and glossy-looking.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Cool enough to pour into a jar then cool completely before sealing and storing in the fridge.

Rachel Redlaw chilli paste in oil nam prik pao

Did you make this? And what did you then make with it? Let me know ...