Seafood Nam Prik Pao

Squid, prawns and fish with stir fried vegetables in a red Thai Chile sauce served with a mound of Jasmine rice


Ah, beautiful Thailand.  Crystal clear water, sandy beaches, lush forests and of course, amazing food.  The first time I visited Thailand, I was young, single and free.  I stayed in a hostel in Phuket, spent my days on a boat – off day tripping everywhere and somewhere and, of course, eating at the local stalls.  $5 US bought me a feast of spicy Thai curries, noodles and all kinds of what have you.   I wasn’t exactly sure what I ate.  I just pointed and said I’d take that.  It was glorious!

The second time around in Thailand, I vacationed on a slightly out-of-the-way island off Krabi with a 2 year old and husband in tow.  No day trips for me – not in a low season plagued by monsoon rain, and especially not on a holiday week.  Instead it was more of us just chilling as a family in a vacation chalet in a more secluded part of Thailand.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still glorious: reading books on a beach with a gigantic bottle of beer and hiding out from the rain under bamboo awning.  The only thing that was a bit of a bummer about it was the lack of food stalls.  Very little was open and sadly most places that were open were tourist traps serving sub par burgers, sandwiches and Westernized versions of Thai food.   Of course,, there were 1 or 2 local places nearby that were great but mostly I struggled to get some spice.  If I saw anything on the menu that contained the world ‘chili’ I ordered it.

Luckily for me, Nam Prik Pao was on offer.  Nam Prik Pao, or Thai chili paste, is a delicious concoction of mild red chilies, garlic, shallots and a tad of shrimp paste.  Sweeter than it is spicy, Nam Prik Pao can very easily be transformed into a sauce that can rescue even the dullest of dishes.  Stir fry some vegetables with the chili paste and a splash of coconut milk and you’ve got a delicious vegetable side.  I prefer a light sauce of the chili paste with soy sauce over a medley of wok fried vegetables and seafood.  The sweet and salty sauce nicely compliments delicate seafood and crispy vegetables.    Finish it off with a handful of fresh Thai Basil, a sprinkling of sugar and fish sauce, take a bite and you’ll feel like you too are on a secluded Thai island somehere….just hopefully without all that rain.




Squid, prawns and fish with stir fried vegetables in a red Thai Chile sauce served with a mound of Jasmine rice







Seafood Nam Prik Pao

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 1x


A light sauce of Thai chili paste with soy sauce over a medley of wok fried vegetables, white fish, prawns and calamari. Serve with jasmine rice for a delicious well balanced meal. #seafood #Thaifood #stirfry #delicious #healthy



  • 1 halibut fillet sliced no bigger than 1 cm / 0.5 inch thick (~200 g / 7 oz)
  • 1 squid (cleaned and sliced up into tentacles and rings)
  • 612 prawns (deveined and removed from shells)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • 45 cm of ginger (sliced)
  • 200 g / 7 oz sliced mushrooms (shitake, oyster, or button-whichever you prefer)
  • 68 baby corns
  • 1 medium/large carrot (sliced thinly)
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz snap peas
  • 1 large bunch of Tai Pak Choy ( chopped into large pieces 12 in/ 25 cm long)
  • a large handful of Thai Basil Leaves (about 50 g)
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp Thai Chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 12 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 12 tsp sugar (optional)


Over high heat, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large wok.

When hot, add sliced ginger and garlic and stir vigorously (about 30 sec – 1 min)

Add sliced mushrooms, sliced carrot, baby corn, snap peas and pak choy.  Stir fry for 2-3 min on high heat until cooked but still crunchy ( al dente).

Remove stir fried veg from wok and transfer to a plate. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together Thai chili paste, soy sauce and water.  Set aside.

Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil on high heat in large wok.  When hot, add sliced halibut.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly seared on both sides.

Add prawns, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes or until no longer pink.

Add sliced calamari, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes or until firm.  Be careful not to overcook the calamari as it has a tendency to pick up a rubbery texture.

Add chili paste and soy sauce mixture.

Add stir fried vegetables to seafood in wok.  Stir until everything is evenly coated.

Turn off heat, add Thai Basil leaves and stir into mixture.

Taste sauce and season appropriately with fish sauce and sugar.  A little goes a long way, so start out with 1 tbsp of fish sauce with 1 tsp of sugar and go from there.


Don’t throw in all the seafood to cook and hope for the best.  Fish, prawns and calamari all have different cooking times which means you might run the risk of overcooking some parts while leaving others undercooked.  The ensure that each element is perfectly cooked, stagger the frying.  First fry the fish, followed by prawns and lastly squid.

  • Category: Thai, Seafood, Stir-fry
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Seafood, stir fry, Thai Chili paste, Nam Prik Pao, fish, prawns, shrimp, calamari, Thai Basil, vegetables






3 Comments Add yours

  1. The more seeds you remove from the chilis, the less spicy your finished dish will be. If this is your first time making Nam Prik Pao, it s a great idea to remove most of them and set them aside. You can always add some back in at the end.

  2. Easyladys says:

    Can this be made with the Thai bird chili and fermented? If so .what if adjustments would you recommend be made to your recipe?

    1. Natasha says:

      Wouldn’t recommend with Thai bird chilis, although you can always try. Thai chili paste is a special kind of deliciousness that can’t be replicated.

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