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Enhance Your Dishes: Best Substitutes for Nam Prik Pao Revealed

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Have you ever heard of Nam Prik Pao and wondered what it is?

Nam Prik Pao is a type of chili paste that is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine.

It can be used as an ingredient or condiment, often providing a savory and slightly sweet flavor to dishes.

But if you don’t have it in your pantry, don’t worry.

There are several substitutes for Nam Prik Pao that can do the trick just as well.

From sambals to sriracha, learning how to substitute this pungent condiment will help ensure all your recipes come out tasting great.

What’s Nam Prik Pao?

Nam Prik Pao is a popular chili paste originating from Thailand.

This paste has become increasingly well-known throughout the world in recent years due to its unique flavor profile that adds a delicious kick to any dish.

It is composed of roasted chilies and garlic, crushed nuts and palm sugar.

Additionally, this unique condiment contains fish sauce which gives it a salty, slightly fishy taste that pairs wonderfully with other flavors.

In terms of texture, this fiery blend could be described as oily with a few small bits of nut pieces scattered throughout for crunchy pops of flavor.

Despite its somewhat intimidating ingredients list and vibrant hue, this chili paste can be used to add zesty sweetness to a variety of dishes including soups, curries, fried rice, noodles and more.

All one needs to do is mix in an appropriate amount (depending on preferred spice level) into the dish for an incredible burst of Thai flavors.

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Nam Prik Pao

If you find yourself in need of an alternative to this classic Thai condiment, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the five best substitutes for Nam Prik Pao that can help you get a similar flavor in your home cooking.

1 – Make Your Own Nam Prik Pao

If you can’t find this particular condiment in your local grocery store or don’t have access to any of the ingredients, there are plenty of other options available for flavoring your favorite Thai dish.

Here are some great substitutes for nam prik pao that let you bring the delicious flavors of Thailand into your home cooking without having to hunt down every single ingredient:

2 – Sambal Terasi

Sambal terasi is a popular condiment and sauce from Indonesia, made from ground roasted chilies, toasted shrimp paste and a variety of other spices.

It has a reddish-brown color, a spicy-salty taste, and is most often served alongside fish cakes or deep-fried snacks such as prawn or vegetable fritters.

In comparison with Nam Prik Pao, Sambal Terasi has an earthier flavor, with a strong but not overpowering aroma.

The texture of this condiment is also smoother than Nam Prik Pao and it can be used in the same way as its Thai counterpart – as a dip for snacks or meats, in stir-fries to add extra heat and saltiness, or simply added to dishes after cooking to give them an additional kick of flavor.

3 – Gochujang

Gochujang is a Korean chili paste blend that is easily found in most grocery stores.

It’s made with red pepper flakes, soybean powder or starch, and sweeteners like malt or honey.

It can be used as an alternative to Nam Prik Pao if you’re looking for a milder flavor.

Gochujang isn’t as spicy as Nam Prik Pao but it does have sweet and salty notes, making it perfect for pairing with rice.

To use Gochujang as a substitute for Nam Prik Pao, just mix one tablespoon of the paste with two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of oil for every two tablespoons of Nam Prik Pao you’d normally use.

4 – Sambal Oelek

Sambal oelek is a paste made from chilli peppers, vinegar, garlic and salt.

It is usually served as an accompaniment to dishes such as grilled fish, but can also be used as a condiment on its own.

Sambal oelek has a rich spicy flavor with a hint of sourness and can be used to create a similarly spicy flavor as that of Nam Prik Pao.

To make it even more flavorful, you can add other ingredients such as ginger or lemongrass for an extra kick.

5 – Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili garlic sauce is a popular condiment often used in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines.

It adds a flavorful kick to dishes ranging from stir-fries to noodles, soups and even porridges.

The flavor profile often depends on the brand you’re using; overall it offers a blend of sweet, spicy and garlicky notes that are slightly more intense than those found in nam prik pao.

To use it as a substitute for nam prik pao, mix one part chili garlic sauce with two parts water or vegetable oil before adding it to your dish.


Choosing the right Nam Prik Pao substitute is ultimately up to your preference, but each of the five alternatives mentioned above have their own unique flavor profile and benefits.

Consider the ingredients you have on hand and choose a substitute accordingly.

If you’re making a dish that might not taste as good without its original flavor, consider using store-bought Nam Prik Pao as a base or topping.

If you don’t have access to it, then one of these five alternatives can help make a delicious meal.

Finally, keep in mind that some substitutions can significantly alter the taste and texture of the finished dish, so adjust seasonings accordingly.

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Nam Prik Pao

Recipe by Kimberly Baxter Course: Substitutes

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  • Make Your Own Nam Prik Pao

  • Sambal Terasi

  • Gochujang

  • Sambal Oelek

  • Chili Garlic Sauce


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.

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