Chilli Paste Stir Fries (chicken, shrimp or tofu)

Gai Pad Nam-prik Pao


1-2 tbsp oil (any neutral tasting oil suitable for high temperature cooking will do)
two (small) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, sliced into bite size
1 heaping tablespoon of chilli Paste* (Nam-prik Pao)
Half an onion, sliced
about half cup each of red bell pepper and green bell pepper, sliced
Fish Sauce to taste (start with 2tbsp, add more if needed)
a handful of Thai Basil, regular basil will do as well
bird-eye Chilli, optional

*I make my own, but you can easily buy it at any Asian Market. The most readily available brand is in a 16oz jar, with yellow top and yellow, red and white lable. The label says Chilli Paste with Soya Bean Oil. The brand is Pantainorasingh. I have used this brand in the past, and found it acceptable for cooking though not for eating plain.

Now you cook…

Into a hot wok or sauteed pan, add the oil, then the chopped garlic
wait until the garlic is just beginning to fragrant, be carful not to let it brown at this time as it will continue to cook after the addition of other ingredients.

Add the chicken, stir it around for a few minutes until the chicken is about half way done, then add the fish sauce and chilli paste, give it a good stir.

Next add the onion and bell peppers.
If you like it very spicy, smashed up a couple of bird-eye chilli and throw them in.
Cook, stiring frequently, until the chicken is done.

Check the seasonings, add more fish sauce if needed.
Throw in the handful of Thai Basil, turn the heat off, stir a few times to incorporate the basil into the dish.

Serve immediately with freshly cooked jasmine rice, from Thailand of course.


Tofu: For the Tofu version, I use Chinese fried tofu that you can buy from most Asian markets. They are normally in square or triangle pieces in plastic bags. Just buy the freshest looking ones. If you are so inspired, you can quick fry them again before cooking, though it’s not neccesary. I usually slice them thin and use in place of chicken. You need to add the tofu, onions, and bell peppers at the same time, as the tofu do not need very long to cook, and you want to end up with slightly crunchy onions and bell peppers, not raw.

Shrimp: will do well here as well. For this I would use lemon basil in place of the regular thai basil if you could find them. The subtle tang of the Lemon Basil (Bai Mang-Luck in Thai) goes very well with seafood.

P.S. I’ve recently done it with clams (2/28/04) and it looks like this:

If you find this recipe useful, please consider giving a few dollars to help my charity drive for Doctors without Borders by clicking on the picture below.

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8 Responses to “Chilli Paste Stir Fries (chicken, shrimp or tofu)

  • tara said:
    October 19th, 2006 at 3:33pm

    did you ever give out the nam prik pao recipe – i’d love to have it

  • birx said:
    October 22nd, 2006 at 3:11pm

    I’ve tried to make Nam-prik Pao recently and it came out much better than the store-bought varity 🙂 As I’m near to making the next batch I’d like to ask for a hint: First I fried onions and garlic, etc., which went fine, but frying the dried chili pieces really drove me out of the kitchen desperately gasping for air for minutes, additionally they got quite dark very fast. Would it be better to soak, i.e. reconstituate them first or lies the key in the temperature of the frying oil? Thanks a lot 🙂

  • birx said:
    December 5th, 2006 at 1:58am

    any chance of a helpful answer? still hoping …

  • birx said:
    December 13th, 2006 at 5:08am

    ok, meanwhile I found the solution through more experiments. So at least I can help anyone who faces the same problem:
    1. make a bigger batch of paste, so that there are not only a few chillies are exposed to the hot oil and
    2. fry them not alone but together with e.g. the dried shrimp.

  • Pim said:
    December 13th, 2006 at 1:52pm

    Sorry to be so slow to reply. Things have been a little hectic and I’ve been sick like a dog for weeks.
    Just to answer the question, you don’t really need to fry the chillies for too long. Just a quick toss in the hot oil, until they puff up a bit and change color ever so slightly. That’s all.

  • thai food restaurants in capitola santa cruz said:
    February 26th, 2010 at 2:43pm


  • Guest said:
    August 10th, 2011 at 5:52am

    I somehow never commented on this recipe until now even though I have made it quite a few times! We love this recipe, very easy and quick and the result is delicious. I made my own nam prik pao sauce too and it’s so good we use in soups, stir-fries, anything! Anyway, thanks for posting, great recipe!

  • kokojjang said:
    January 26th, 2012 at 5:25am

    hey, thanks for sharing this recipe, i just tried it today, and it’s good! thanks again

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