Tom Yum Paste (Nham Prik Pao)



1/3 cup

Tom Yum Paste (Nham Prik Pao)

Photo, Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriot.

Toronto chef Nuit Regular changed the way the city’s diners viewed Thai cuisine—and she hopes her new cookbook, Kiin, will do the same for how people cook it at home. “Today, the ingredients are easy to find online and at Asian supermarkets,” says Regular. And if a certain recipe seems hard, she says, just start with a simpler one: papaya salad or the starter paste for a tom yum soup. “Once you overcome the intimidation of thinking it’s hard, you’re going to find a different joy in Thai food, in making it for yourself.”


  • 1/4 cup large dried shrimp
  • 1 tbsp + 1/4 cup sunflower oil , divided
  • 3 to 5 large dried red spur chilies
  • 3 tbsp unpeeled Thai garlic cloves , or thinly sliced peeled regular garlic
  • 3 tbsp thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste , homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar


  • In a small food processor, pulse dried shrimp until they look stringy, like floss. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan over medium, heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil. Add chilies and cook until dark red, and skin starts to plump up and looks smooth, 1 to 2 min. Transfer chilies to a stone mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, you can use a small food processor.)
  • Return pan to medium. Add remaining 1⁄4 cup sunflower oil and heat for 1 min. Add garlic and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked but not crispy, 2 to 3 min. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic and shallots to mortar with chilies. Leave oil in the pan.
  • Pound garlic and shallots to a fine paste. Add paprika and pound to mix.
  • Return pan to medium and allow sunflower oil to heat up for 1 min. Scoop paste out of mortar, add to oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 min. Add shrimp floss, Tamarind Paste and coconut sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sugar is fully dissolved, 1 to 2 min. Store Tom Yum Paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

The recipes in Chef Nuit Regular’s cookbook, Kiin, encompass her cooking life in restaurant kitchens and beyond: some of her restaurants’ biggest hits. The pad Thai noodles she used to make and sell in little plastic baggies for extra income as a student. The birthday curry her mother made every year. Her sour and spicy soup with shrimp and tom yum paste — the list goes on (and you’re going to want to try it all).

Excerpted from Kiin by Nuit Regular. Copyright © 2020 by Nuit Regular. Photography copyright © 2020 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.