What is …?
‘Chilli Padi’ or Bird’s eye chilli, bird eye chilli, bird’s chilli or Thai chilli is a chilli pepper, a variety from the species Capsicum annuum, commonly found in Ethiopia and across Southeast Asia. It is used extensively in Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Lao, Khmer, Indonesian, Kerala and Vietnamese cuisines.
Sambal is a generic term for many varieties of chilli-based sauces popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Most of the sambals are traditionally made using stone pestle and mortar, according to each recipe. Nevertheless, there are some bottled mass-produced sambal brands today. Saus Cabai (Indonesia) or Sos Cili (Malaysia), a category of its own, uses tomato puree, chilli juice, sugar, salt and some other spices or seasonings to give the spicy, but not too hot, taste. Some countryside commercial varieties use bird’s eye chilli (cili padi, cabai rawit or burung) together with its seeds to raise the level of heat (piquancy) of the sauce. Variants include the typical concoctions with ginger and garlic (for chicken rice) and variants that are made into gummy consistency as with ketchup/tomato sauce.
In Indonesia, the bottled commercially available chilli sauce is known as bottled saus cabai. They are also commonly known as bottled sambal. However, unlike the coarse-textured and richly flavoured traditional sambal, this bottled sambal or chilli sauce has an even gloppy texture similar to those of tomato sauce, and a rather simple hot flavour. Unlike traditional sambal, enrichened with shrimp pastes, the commercial sambal sauce usually uses finely blended red chilli pepper and garlic, and sometimes a little bit of sugar, without any addition of shrimp paste.
Thais put raw chillies on a very wide variety of food, in lieu of spicy dipping sauce. The spicy dipping sauce is eaten as condiments but they can also be used as an ingredient.
Nam phrik is the generic name for a Thai chilli dip or paste. A Thai cookbook from 1974 lists over 100 different recipes. Nam phrik phao (roasted chilli paste), nam phrik num (pounded grilled green chilli paste) and nam phrik kapi (chilli paste made with fermented shrimp paste) are some of the more well-known varieties. Many Thai dipping sauces (nam chim) contain chilli peppers. Nam chim chaeo uses ground dried chilli peppers to achieve its spiciness. Available worldwide is nam chim kai, also known as “chilli sauce for chicken” or “Thai sweet chilli sauce”. Phrik nam pla is fish sauce (nam pla) with chopped raw chillies, lime juice and sometimes garlic. Sriracha sauce is a Thai chilli sauce, originally from the town of Si Racha, Thailand.
Sriracha sauce is a type of hot sauce or chilli sauce made from a paste of chilli peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Province of Eastern Thailand, where it was possibly first produced for dishes served at local seafood restaurants.
A type of chilli sauce is Thai sweet chilli sauce, which is used as a dipping sauce, a marinade, and for cooking, such as in stir-fried dishes. The company Mae Ploy is a major manufacturer of Thai sweet chilli sauce. Most major supermarket chain stores in North America carry Thai sweet chilli sauce. Sweet chilli sauce is used in Thai cuisine and is also sometimes used in the preparation of sushi.
Some versions of Nam phrik, a range of chilli-based, hot sauces typical of Thai cuisine, are sweetened with sugar.
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