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At my favorite local Thai restaurant, they have a trio of spicy condiments available to add to your food. Of the three, one is chile-garlic sauce, one is a crushed dried red pepper of some kind, and the third is very mysterious to me.

It is a thick, dark (nearly black) chunky "paste" (ok, to chunky to be a paste, but I don't have a better word for it... 'jam' maybe?).

It is clearly made primarily of chilis, and I believe some kind of oil, but I'm not sure what else might be in it.

It has a very interesting flavour -- kind of roasty and spicy? Maybe some garlic in there too?

Any ideas as to what this mysterious roasty black chili "jam" might be?

In googling for Thai condiments, I keep finding several standard condiments, but none of them are this.

(I guess I could ask at the restaurant, but where's the fun in that? Plus I always forget when I am there...)

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So is it spicy hot? Tangy? Sweet? Some more description will help narrow down the item. – Chef Flambe Jan 18 '12 at 5:14
It's certainly spicy-hot -- some kind of chili is a main ingredient for sure, but it's also got a kind of burnt taste? Maybe? I'm thinking maybe it's something made from roasted chilis and garlic and oil... But, like, roasted to the point of black. But that's just a guess. – TJ Ellis Jan 18 '12 at 14:28
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Is it roasted chili paste (น้ำพริกเผา in Thai)?

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I believe this is probably correct answer based on your description. Mae Pranom is a very popular Thai brand. – EddyR Jun 3 '12 at 7:04
To follow up, a few years later, i just came across a blog post that confirmed this answer: it is definitely nam prik pao. – TJ Ellis Oct 12 '14 at 2:38

Thai Black Bean Sauce? (see e.g. this recipe)

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