In celebrating our LOVE for condiments at Ollie's it is time we share one of our baddest secrets with you yet. In the world of condiments, where ketchup reigns supreme and mustard gives a sharp tang, there lies a spicy underdog with a sweet disposition that's been captivating global taste buds — Nam Prik Pao aka Chilli Jam in its South East Asian form. This sticky, sweet, and spicy spread is a culinary paradox, a harmonious blend of flavours that might just be the missing link your pantry has been craving.
A Tale of Many Origins
Chilli jam doesn't hail from a single homeland. Its essence is captured in the bustling street markets of Bangkok, the fragrant kitchens of Hanoi, and even in the trendy artisanal food shops of New York or London. In Thailand, the celebrated 'nam prik pao' is a cornerstone of their flavoursome cuisine, a roasted chili paste that imbues dishes with a rich, smoky heat. This traditional version is a far cry from the more gelatinous chili jams found in Western stores, yet they share an undeniable lineage.
Crafting the Perfect Balance
Creating chilli jam is akin to a dance of the elements. The heat of the chilli peppers pirouettes with the sweetness of sugar, while the acidity of vinegar cuts in to keep the flavours in line. The best chilli jams speak of their ingredients' quality: the fieriness of fresh chillies, the clarity of rice wine vinegar, and the pureness of cane sugar. It is a craft where the maker's hand is evident in the balance of flavours.
Versatility in a Jar
The genius of chilli jam lies in its versatility. It's the perfect companion to a cheeseboard, where its sweet heat complements the richness of soft cheeses. Spread it on a sandwich to add a zesty kick, or swirl it into a stir-fry for an instant flavour lift. It's a condiment that's at home on the breakfast table as it is invigorating a gourmet dinner.
A Love Affair with Spice
Our love affair with spice is timeless, and chilli jam is its latest incarnation. It's a testament to our unending quest for flavours that excite and comfort in equal measure. From the heat-hunters to the sweet-toothed gourmands, chilli jam has a place on every table.
So let's raise our forks or chopsticks to this fiery spread that has traversed continents and culinary landscapes to find its place in our kitchens. It's more than a condiment; it's a global tale of taste.
Chilli Jam (Nam Prik Pao)
Makes about 2 cups
500g fresh red chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped
3 red capsicums, seeded and roughly chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 cup rice wine vinegar
3 cups caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
With gloves on, stem and chop the red chillies, then seed and chop the capsicums.
Transfer the chilli mixture to a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the rice wine vinegar and fish sauce, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
Transfer the chili mixture to a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the rice wine vinegar and fish sauce, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
Stir in the caster sugar and salt until completely dissolved.
Add the lemon juice to the mixture, stirring well to incorporate.
Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until it thickens and reduces by about a third. Stir occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the pan.
Test the jam’s consistency by spooning a small amount onto a cold plate; if it gels, it is ready. If not, continue cooking, testing every 5 minutes.
Carefully ladle the hot jam into clean air tight jars, wipe any spillages, seal with the lids, and let cool to room temperature.
Check that the jars are sealed properly before storing in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.
Enjoy your homemade chili jam as a fiery accompaniment to cheese boards, a glaze for meats, or to spice up your sandwiches!