22 March 2009

Fire sauce burns

To say that last week did not go all that smoothly might be an understatement. As I write this post, I'm popping pain relievers and holding an ice pack to my mouth. My lips are swollen beyond recognition and feel as though they are going to swallow up my entire face at any moment.

After months of enjoying the pepper sauce accompanying one of my favorite vendor dishes, this was the week that my brain played a nasty trick on my body. "Come on, you like the heat. The spice is fantastic. You're not a wimp. You can handle it hot," my brain taunted. Dropping a full teaspoon of the vendor's fire sauce onto my cup of rice, I lifted a bite to my mouth. Wow. Ka-ping. That stuff is good! And, hot. A few bites later and I was screaming my way to the kitchen to put out the fire in my mouth. Unwrapping a giant chunk of unsweetened chocolate I keep for the occasional baking project, I couldn't mess with a knife and just attempted to gnaw off a piece to put out the flames. Ahhh... relief.

The next day, I eyed the sauce cautiously. Oh, what the heck. Let's give it another whirl. A bowl full of rice and a half teaspoon of sauce later, I was splashing cold water all over myself in an attempt to stop my lips from the burning sensation radiating within.

On day three, I awoke and knew something was wrong. If the pain pulsing from my lips wasn't a strong indicator, then the blisters lining the entire interior of my mouth were a dead give away. Here's a lesson: Pepper sauce that you refer casually to as fire sauce can burn your lips... badly.

The last thing I expected on that fateful day I handed over my baht in exchange for the little baggie filled with pepper sauce was to obtain the results that some people pay big bucks for. Hey, anyone need a serious lip plump? Come visit me and I'll lead you in the way.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no 39:
Fire Sauce (Nam Prik POW!)
I haven't yet been able to replicate the sauce made by our local vendor. But, this recipe is a take on the traditional fried chili sauces found throughout Thailand. Each vendor or restaurant has their own variation of the condiment which can be used to top plain rice, added to soups or noodle dishes. It can also be added to curries to give stronger heat. Consider yourself warned though: Cook this in a well ventilated area and take caution in consuming. Make no mistake about it, this is FIRE sauce.

6 tablespoons oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
6 dried red chili peppers (the largest you can find), crushed slightly
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt

In a wok, heat the oil and fry the garlic and scallions until golden brown. Do not allow garlic to burn. Remove from the oil and set aside. Add the chilies to the oil and fry until they darken. Remove from oil and combine with the garlic and scallions in a mortar. Pound thoroughly until a paste is formed. Reheat the oil and add the paste. Add the sugar and salt. Combine and cook to warm. Set aside and serve warm or cold. Will keep for up to three months in an air tight container in the refrigerator.


  1. Ok, I'm LOL, but am sorry that your lips are blistered. But, LOL and can't stop.

  2. Bwah ha ha ha! Thanks for the laugh. Sorry it was at your expense. I'm going to make your sauce and have a how hot can you take it party. Maybe I'll blister some of the lips of my guests. Bwah ha ha ha!


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