As mentioned before, dips – generally known as kreung jim – form an important part of the Thai diet. In fact they are such a staple of Thai food that every region has a different variation be it nam prik num or nam prik ong from the North, or jaew bong pad in Isan. Nam prik kapi from the Central region is a staple at nearly every Thai restaurant and food stall in Bangkok.
Dips are basically split into two types. The first, nam prik, or “pepper water”, are composed of many ingredients – usually garlic, chili peppers, palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and some sort of cooked meat or roasted vegetable – pounded together. These are served with fresh and cooked vegetables, as well as Thai omelet (kai jiew) and rice: Thailand’s version of the “square meal”. There are also variations of nam prik that are cooked, usually stir-fried. These dips do not have to be pounded, although some ingredients might be pounded ahead of time.
The second kind of dips are called lohn. Thick, salty, sour and aromatic, they are served with vegetables and rice and are made by boiling coconut milk or cream with other seasonings such as green chilies, shallots, tamarind or lime, palm sugar and fish sauce or salt. Recipes for both types of dips follow.