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Shan State Recipes: How to Make Spicy Chicken Nam Prik

Updated on November 26, 2010
The Chef
The Chef

I’ve had the privilege of cooking alongside a lot of cooks hailing from the Shan State area of Burma over the past decade or so, and the even greater privilege of enjoying a lot of the great tasting meals that they’re concocting on a daily basis in my restaurant kitchen for their own staff meals.

Here’s one of my favorites, a totally easy to make ‘dip’ that’s made from chicken and that’s garlicky and spicy and just plain good. Eat this with steamed jasmine rice and with cut up cucumbers and cabbage to accompany and you’ve got a very easy and quick meal for two.

Why not try something a little different – try cooking up a Burmese Shan dish today!

Spicy Shan Chicken Nam Prik

  • 50 Thai bird chilies (yes it’s a lot…but that’s what you need!)
  • 20 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 tsps of MSG (whatever your thoughts on this – this is an authentically used part of their cooking…)
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 4 ounces of chicken breast, sliced sort of thinly for quick frying.
  1. Peel the garlic and then add all of the cloves and all of the chilies to a mortar and pestle, along with the salt and the MSG, and mash until almost paste like. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can alternatively process the chilies and garlic in a blender or food processor)
  2. Add the oil to a medium sized heavy bottomed frying pan and when hot, add in the chicken pieces and fry until well cooked and golden. Keep the pan on, but be watchful of it, as you’ll be putting the chicken back in the oil in a minute or so.
  3. Once cooked, take the chicken out of the pan and chop it into small bite sized pieces, and then add the chicken to the mortar and pestle and then bonk up the chicken for 30 seconds or so to combine it with the garlic and chili…(don’t smash it so hard as to create a paste of chicken – you want the chicken to stay in pieces)
  4. Transfer the contents of the mortar and pestle to the frying pan and fry briefly, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until the dish is very fragrant and the garlic is golden…(be careful here to avoid breathing in the fumes, as the chili air can be fierce!)
  5. Serve alongside sliced cucumber, cabbage and iceberg lettuce (you eat the fresh veggies with the nam prick) and with steamed rice.



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