Chili-salt, a fruit booster


Three simple ingredients that do amazing things to fruits: fresh chili, salt, and sugar, simply mixed together.  If you’ve been to Thailand, I’m sure you’ve seen this trilogy before.  You get them in little paper packets with every piece of fruit you buy off one of those carts on the street.


They are wonderful on sweet fruits, adding an interesting layer of flavors that take it beyond simple sweetness.  They are even better on fruits that are slightly acidic–the salt and sugar taming the acidity and the chili giving it a kick that make everything even better.  It’s so easy, and so crazy good.  You simply must try it.

Thai Chili-Salt, Prik-kab-klua

2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1-2 fresh red chili

Put all the ingredients in a small mortar and grind everything together.  The red chili will tint the entire mixture a lovely shade of light pinkish orange, and the moisture from it will turn everything the texture of wet sand.  Serve along side fresh fruits cut into bite size pieces (so no one double dips on you!)


Try it with tart green apple, or with crunchy green mango.  It even works well to revive those not so sweet mangoes you get from the grocery stores.  Toss a bit into a bowl of early-season
tart berries.  Even dip a juicy chunk of perfectly sweet watermelon
into it for just a little change of scenery.

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37 Responses to “Chili-salt, a fruit booster

  • Tommy said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 1:57am

    What are you still doing up, young lady? (I have an excuse: I work nights) I’ll have to give this one a try. Is that pineapple in the first photo? I’ll bet it’d be good with mango as well…

  • claudia (cook eat FRET) said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 6:01am

    i love this idea
    thank you
    i’ve done the salt thing – great on oranges
    but never thought to add the sugar and chili
    this could become a staple around here

  • oakley said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 7:58am

    I suddenly have a craving for green mango…

  • michelle @ TNS said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 8:35am

    i want a bowl of this and a whole, fresh pineapple for lunch. i would be o so happy.

  • monkey said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 10:15am

    There’s a version of this in Mexican cooking as well. But I think they omit the sugar, using just chili powder and salt.

  • monkey said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 10:19am

    I just remembered – sometimes fresh lime replaces the sugar.

  • Adam said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 10:38am

    Can you make bigger batches of this and store the salt? I assume you can but maybe you have to dry the mixture out first? Thoughts/advice appreciated, thanks!

  • La foodie said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 12:48pm

    avec de la mangue verte, miam ! Dans le meme esprit à la Réunion aussi, mais sans le sucre. Je n’avais jamais pensé à le piler au mortier, voila pourquoi je ne retrouvais pas le gout !

  • alex said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 1:02pm

    Half a ripe mango tossed in sweet soy (kichap manis) & a judicious sprinkle, read a ton of this on it & oh my God,……

  • Su-Lin said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 2:19pm

    Oh! I thought it was always chili powder, not fresh chili!

  • Brigid said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 4:02pm

    Ooh, I miss this, and fruit vendors in Thailand. Would you be able to answer a quick Thai fruit question? I’m not sure about the name of one of my favorite fruits that I tried while I was living in Bangkok. It was about the size and shape of a guava, but wasn’t cut up into individual slices–it came hacked, but still whole. The flesh was semi-crunchy and intensely bitter, but the core of the fruit was the sweetest, creamiest custard. “Custard apple” sounds about right, but since I bought it off the street, I was never sure what it looked like with skin.

  • Aaron Kagan said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 4:32pm

    I find the idea of sugar on fruit a bit like cheating, but I do love to eat almost any fruit with a shaker of powdered ginger on hand. Especially tropicals like mango and papaya.
    And on the other end of the spectrum, a squeeze of lime does wonders for those mangoes that are too sweet.

  • elarael said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 9:53pm

    Amazing, I just sat down to look at the blogs, and yours first, with a big bowl of freshly cut pineapple! So I just tried it, but had to use cayenne powder because I don’t have any chili’s on hand. Very interesting! I think it would be great at a party. I’ll try again with fresh chili for the next pineapple. Thanks!

  • Daryn said:
    May 9th, 2008 at 10:32am

    Another variation is fish sauce instead of salt; especially with slices of green mango or green papaya, but also nice with ripe fruit (especially pineapple)

  • Chee said:
    May 9th, 2008 at 9:22pm

    Ah – It just brings me childhood memories. During the season my grandma works on a strawberry batch, with every visit she comes with buckets full. My mom would usually slice them into quarters and put the same ingredients you noted together – makes a good dessert. However mama also add on unhealthy MSG to top it off.

  • nan said:
    May 10th, 2008 at 8:07am

    I just discovered your blog and I’m so glad – it’s great fun! Thanks! Nan

  • Truc said:
    May 10th, 2008 at 3:27pm

    You should also try eating green mangoes with fish sauce mixed with sugar and chillies. Yummo !

  • Niamh said:
    May 12th, 2008 at 4:24am

    Oh lovely! I’ll have to try this.

  • Ann said:
    May 12th, 2008 at 6:07am

    I just read about this somewhere else as well, so now I’m doubly intrigued to try it. Just not sure on what, but it look delicious!

  • 'Pong said:
    May 13th, 2008 at 4:35am

    Brings back the memory. It’s mouth watering.

  • Krista said:
    May 13th, 2008 at 12:11pm

    What a great idea! I’m not a huge fruit eater–I always think of it as breakfast food–but this livens it up a bit as a midday snack!

  • --Lisa said:
    May 13th, 2008 at 12:23pm

    We use a latin american spice mix called Tajin on fruit. It is basically kosher salt, chile pepper and lime zest. I’ve told myself I will make my own next time I run out but we will see!

  • --Lisa said:
    May 13th, 2008 at 12:24pm

    We use a latin american spice mix called Tajin on fruit. It is basically kosher salt, chile pepper and lime zest. I’ve told myself I will make my own next time I run out but we will see!

  • Ann said:
    May 15th, 2008 at 4:19pm

    I agree about the mango and fish sauce comment …amazing stuff. Fish sauce should be thickened with white sugar until it reaches a syrup like consistency and fresh chilis should be chopped into the mix. Add a nice, un-ripe mango, and you’ve got all the best flavors going on…salty, sweet, spicy, and super sour! Umami overload.

  • kayenne said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 10:15am

    is that fine salt or coarse salt? i love fruits with sour plum powder… learned that trick in singapore. but i do sometimes eat green mangoes with spicy-soy-vinegar dip that’s sold on street corners when i visit my aunt in the mountain province. here in manila. it’s fermented shrimp past – salty or spicy.

  • kayenne said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 10:22am

    is that fine salt or coarse salt? i love fruits with sour plum powder… learned that trick in singapore. but i do sometimes eat green mangoes with spicy-soy-vinegar dip that’s sold on street corners when i visit my aunt in the mountain province. here in manila. it’s fermented shrimp paste – salty or spicy.

  • foureight84 said:
    July 30th, 2008 at 4:36am

    you should try a blend of fish sauce and sugar. it’s roughly a 2 to 1 ratio. or just add the sugar until you get a syrupy consistency. a great sauce with green unripened mangoes.

  • James in Beijing said:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 2:22am

    I just left Bangkok after a wonderful few days, and one of the highlights was fruit (unripe mango) dipped in a spicy-sweet chili mix that I bought at the Tha Tien ferry terminal market near the Grand Palace. Is this recipe going to produce that spice paste? If not, do you know a recipe for it, or the name so I can do my own search so I can make it!?

  • alec said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 8:52am

    does this still work using dried chili?

  • telefon dinleme said:
    August 9th, 2009 at 12:52am

    thank you for your article. i find it after to 1 month… good evening.

  • dinleme cihazı said:
    August 12th, 2009 at 5:45am

    thank you for your article. i find it after to 1 month… good evening…

  • Nok said:
    September 26th, 2009 at 10:14pm

    omg! omg omgomgomgomg! so i stumbled across someone else’s food blog, where she mentioned someone named Pim. I thought to myself–that is a Thai name if I’ve ever heard one! And sure enough, I’m so delighted to find someone who actually has authentic thai recipes online. I am Thai too! You describe yourself as too eastern for the West and too western for the East and I can totally relate. I guess as soon as I saw this post I just got really excited. I live in Hawaii now so there is always plenty of fresh fruit. When all else fails, i resort to my chili-salt-sugar mixture and it brings me right back home. everyone here thinks i’m strange for eating mangos or pineapples before they’ve ripened, and especially strange for dipping them in this concoction. but i love it. and i’m so glad to have found someone else in the western hemisphere who loves it too! 🙂

  • Tiffany Pendant said:
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:26pm

    The pictures say it all, what a wonderful party this is! Great job!

  • jch67 said:
    May 11th, 2011 at 12:16am

    if you don’t have fresh peppers you can use red pepper flakes (to taste) and add a sprinkle of water for a bit of moisture. It’s not quite as good but will save you a trip to the market!

  • Nicola Hogan140 said:
    December 28th, 2011 at 11:17pm

    Nicely written, reinvigorates the humble pineapple and transports you back to your hols !

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