Salty, fermented fish sauce with fresh chilies (called nahm phrik pla raa) is the most important flavoring ingredient in Thai cooking. It is like salt to Americans and soy sauce to the Chinese. Chili sauce or paste (called nahm phrik) is foundational to the Thai diet, and each region has its own version. A mortar and pestle is used to crush chilies together with such ingredients as garlic, shrimp paste, lime juice and fish sauce. It is used as a vegetable dipping sauce or ...

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