Chilli jam

Chilli jam

New Thai Food
1 cup
Jeremy Simons


Quantity Ingredient
2 litres canola oil
600g red onions, finely sliced
1 1/2 garlic bulbs, cloves peeled and blended with hand-held blender or finely crushed
60g dried long red chillies, seeded
30g dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, drained
3 cm piece fresh galangal, peeled and sliced
80g palm sugar, pounded
60g fish sauce
or 1 tablespoon sea salt
100ml Tamarind


  1. Heat the oil in a wok over a medium–high heat to 160°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 25–30 seconds.
  2. Fry the onions until they turn the colour of lightly stained pine, stirring continuously, for about 8–9 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, setting the onions aside to drain and pouring the oil back into the wok or saucepan. You use the same oil for each of the fried components of this chilli jam, so you need to strain it well.
  3. Fry the garlic a light golden colour, stirring continuously, for about 8–10 minutes, then remove from the oil with a Chinese spider (skimmer/spatula).
  4. Fry the chillies for no more than 10 seconds as they burn quickly. Remove when they are a deep red colour.
  5. Fry the dried shrimp, moving them around in the oil to ensure even cooking, for about 1 minute. Remove and drain on paper towel. Reserve the oil.
  6. Heat a small frying pan over a low heat, then dry-roast the galangal, stirring continuously, for about 10–15 minutes.
  7. Combine all these fried ingredients in a mixing bowl. You can make this into a paste in three ways:

    –pound all these fried ingredients in a large mortar and pestle

    –blend all these fried ingredients in a food processor

    –use a mincer attachment and mince these fried ingredients three times, then finish by blending in a food processor. This last method gives the best result.
  8. Transfer the paste to a heavy-based saucepan, strain the reserved oil into the pan and stir to combine well. Heat the mixture almost to boiling point. When hot, add the palm sugar, fish sauce or salt, and tamarind. Stir to mix through, then remove from the heat.
  9. The paste should have a rich, roasted, sweet, sour and salty taste. It is often used as a base to flavour other dishes, and keeps in the refrigerator for 3–4 months.
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