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Dip into Thai cuisine

Update: January, 05/2015 - 18:10

Heavenly healthy: Nam prik kapi, the Thai signature dish that include many fresh vegetables dipped in shrimp paste and provide a rich source of vitamins, fibres and protein.

by Lifestyle Desk

Nam prik kapi is probably one of Thai cuisine's most tantalising dips and is typical of central Thailand. Considered as a very healthy food, it is a kind of dip often enjoyed with fresh and boiled vegetable as well as fried egg-coated greens.

The star ingredient in nam prik kapi is kapi or shrimp paste, and the best kind to use should have dry, smooth consistency and savoury pleasant smell, plus a combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy tastes. Other main ingredients include chilli and lime.

However, many parts of Thailand have different nam prik kapi recipes. Some also put in dried small shrimps, eggplants and other vegetables. Generally, Thais usually have nam prik with rice and fresh vegetables, giving them health benefit and fulfilling meal in one go. To follow Thai traditional eating custom, people should bring veggies to dip into the chilli sauce and then eat it with steamed rice instead of scooping a spoonful of sauce and spreading it on rice.

Nam prik kapi is rather an extensive menu in itself, because not only it consists of the paste itself, there are also other components to complete the set, including deep-fried mackerel (pla too in Thai) and array of vegetables fresh and cooked in various ways. According to the nutrition research by associate professor Somsri Charoenkiatsakul of Mahidol University's Institute of Nutrition, nam prik kapi contains many beneficial substances that benefit our health. To handle a widespread lack of nutrition among Thai people, the Institute during the past several years has encouraged people to enjoy this dish that is not only heavenly but also healthy.

Mackerel is an ocean fish that is rich in protein, good fat and omega-3, which helps nurtures brain and heart. Shrimp paste is enriched in amino acids, peptides and proteins that help support biological processes. Dried shrimp is high in calcium. Garlic has cardiovascular benefits and chilli helps regulate blood sugar.

Nam prik kapi is best enjoyed with lots of vegetables, which also give us lots of vitamins. One popular vegetable side dish for nam prik kapi is fried omelette with acacia wattle leaves (cha-om), and with egg added to the dish, you get even more nutrition. The cooking oil used in deep frying helps release beta carotene in green leaves and allows the body to absorb easily. Beta carotene benefits eye sight and decreases free radicals. Thai eggplants, other popular choice in the green bunch, is high in soluble fibre that helps the body get rid of fat. A full menu of nam prik kapi gives you nutrition values from all five food groups in proper amount.

When it comes to enjoying vegetables, many people are concerned about potential pesticide residue. Somsri advises to thoroughly wash and boil vegetables in order to reduce the risk of consuming chemicals. One simple way is to put water in a bowl with a spoonful of salt or vinegar and then soak vegetables for about 15 minutes, then wash them again with water to get rid of any saltiness or sourness. Another way is to leave vegetables in boiled water for two to three minutes, or boiling the vegetables for one minute, as this would preserve their nutritional value. Avoid cooking them until they become tender.The Nation

RECIPE

Nam Prik Kapi Pla Too Tod

Pasty:Shrimp paste is the star of this complex dip.

Ingredients (serves 7)

  • 43g lightly grilled kapi (shrimp paste)
  • 15 small red chilli
  • 1 ½ tablespoon garlic (peeled)
  • 1 tablespoon dried small shrimp (shredded)
  • ¼ cup small eggplants
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ma-uek or bolo maka (sliced)
  • 4g ripe eggplant
  • 1 piece big bird-eye chilli
  • 1 ¾ tablespoon fish sauce
  • 50g lime juice
  • ¼ cup palm sugar
  • Side dishes and vegetables
  • 3 cucumber (fresh)
  • 7 pieces eggplant (fresh)
  • 28 pieces long green beans (boiled)
  • 28 pieces dok kae or vegetable humming bird (boiled)
  • 35 pieces white stem morning glory (boiled)
  • Fried vegetable
  • 28 pieces fried omelette with cha-om
  • 2 ¼ cup egg (whole)
  • 1/5 cup vegetable oil
  • 7 whole medium-size fried mackerel

Preparation

Nam prik kapi

  • 1. Cover shrimp paste in banana leaf and grill lightly over open fire until fragrant.
  • 2. Scrape off the hair on the ma-uek and slice vertically into small pieces.
  • 3. In a mortar, smash the grilled shrimp paste and garlic and blended. Put in big bird eye chilli and chilli, smash to fine consistency and blended well. Put in small eggplants, ma-uek and dried shrimp then stir well.
  • 4. Season with lime, palm sugar and fish sauce. Sourness should be most prominent, followed by saltiness, sweetness and chilli spiciness.
  • Side dishes and vegetables
  • Fresh greens
  • Rinse well with water and cut to bite size.
  • Boiled greens
  • Rinse well, cut to bite size then boil or lightly scald.
  • Fried vegetable
  • 1. Rinse cha-om well and drain off the water. Pick leaves from the stems.
  • 2. Beat the eggs with mix with the leaves, mix well.
  • 3. In a pan, heat vegetable oil on media heat. Fry the egg and green mix until golden brown.
  • 4. Drain the oil off, and cut to bite size.
  • 5. Steam the mackerels and deep fry.

Tips

  • 1. Use natural, good quality shrimp paste. Make sure it is clean and not too salty.
  • 2. Use palm sugar instead of caster sugar to get thick consistency. Palm sugar also gives deeper and richer sweetness.
  • 3. Ma-uek, a member of the aubergine family, gives smoother sourness and adds tangy aroma to the dip.
  • 4. Dried shrimps should be natural with no added colours or preservatives. They should not be too salty.
  • 5. Vegetable choices may depend on the season, your liking and availability. Other greens can also be used or substituted.

Source: Mahildol University's Institute of Nutrition

 

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