A nice way to ring the changes on ever-popular raw vegetables with dips is to use a Thai dip. It livens up bland vegetables like you would not believe. Here are recipes for two dips, one a vegetarian version.
Shrimp Dip (Nam Prik)
- 3 tablespoons small dried shrimp
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 shallots or small red onions
- 2 fresh red chillies
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
Buy dried shrimp that are bright pink in colour and not too hard to the touch. Wash the dried shrimp and soak in a little warm water to cover for 10 minutes. Remove any sandy veins. Put the drained shrimp into a mortar and pound them with the garlic, shallots and chillies until mashed to a paste. Gradually stir in the lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce and sufficient water to give a coating consistency. Serve in a small bowl surrounded by sticks of raw cucumber, celery and carrots, or lightly cooked asparagus and green beans.
Eggplant Dip (Nam Prik Makua)
- 1 medium-sized eggplant, about 350 g (11 oz)
- 1 lime
- 3 small purple shallots, peeled
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- 1 fresh red chilli, sliced
Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Peel and dice the eggplant and drop into the water. Boil until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well. Finely grate the lime zest and squeeze the juice. Put the eggplant into a food processor or blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend at high speed to form a pure. Taste and add more lime juice, salt or sugar if necessary. Serve with vegetables for dipping.