🔥🔥 If you love cooking Thai or adding heat to your food, you need these homemade Thai chili flakes (prik bon) in your life. These chili flakes take just 10 minutes to make and they boast a stronger flavor and heat than any store-bought version you'll ever find! 🔥🔥
What's the Deal with These Thai Chili Flakes?
Thai chili flakes, also known as Thai chili powder and prik bon (พริกป่น) are a very common condiment in the Thai cuisine. We use them to add heat to our food and we love them so much that we add them to pretty much everything, from tom yum to larb, salads, dipping sauces and all kinds of noodles! If you've been to a noodles vendor in Thailand, you probably know what I'm talking about - the whole set of condiments that comes with fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chili flakes.
These Thai chili flakes are a great condiment to have in your pantry if you love spicy food. It also works very well for those of you who cook for your family or when you have guests over. There'll be times when you want to cook something that's great spicy (take some of the Thai dishes for example), but let's admit it - not everyone likes spicy food. In this case, you can just put a cup of chili flakes on the table and let the people who love the heat enjoy them.
Because, just like toasted rice powder, the homemade version is SO MUCH better than any store-bought version! I was so surprised when I first made these myself at home. Not surprised that they were better because that was predictable. But the difference - wow, it was overwhelming. The aroma and flavor of homemade Thai chili flakes are so strong and exactly what we Thais live for!
You may wonder how they can be so different. The truth is, Thai chili flakes are best when they're freshly made. Their flavor and heat fade as time goes by. And when you buy them from a shop, you never know how long they've been sitting on the shelf.
Plus, in Thailand, sometimes you get dodgy manufacturers who will add weird stuff like dried red leaves to the mix to reduce cost / add volume. When they do this, your chili flakes are not going to be as hot as they should be. Even if you add a couple of spoons, the heat just won't be there. Then, soon enough you run out of them and buy more.
What Kind of Chili Do I Use?
Bird's eye chili all the way! But not fresh, though. To make these Thai chili flakes, you'll need dry bird's eye chilies, as seen in the picture above. If you grow these chilies, you can dry the red ones out in the sun. Or you can just get dried Thai chilies from an Asian grocery store. Note that there are mainly 2 types of dried Thai chilies sold in stores, and you can distinguish the difference between them by size. The larger ones are noticeably larger than the smaller ones, and to make chili flakes for Thai cooking, you need the smaller ones.
Larger dried Thai chilies are mild in terms of heat and usually used in curry pastes to create that bright orangey color or in dishes that need the dried chili flavor but not a lot of heat. On the other hand, smaller dried Thai chilies are very hot. And since we use chili flakes to add heat to our food, we use the smaller type.
How to Make Thai Chili Flakes
1. Heat a pan over low heat, add the dried chilies and roast for about 5-7 minutes or until brown, stirring continuously so they don't burn. There's no need to add oil to the pan as the skin of the chilies will release some oil. This step is really important as it removes any moisture that may still be in the chilies, preventing the flakes from going bad easily, and it also brings out the amazing aroma of the chilies. When you finish, your chilies should be a little shiny and darker in color.
2. Once your roasted dried chilies are completely cool, you can start grinding them. Some people like to pound them in a mortar, but I prefer to use the blender because it's faster and it doesn't cost the roasted chilies to lose flavor in any way. If you're using a blender or food processor, just pulse until you have your preferred texture. There's no right or wrong about this, but you can use my pictures as a guide.
When you roast the chilies, the smell will be really strong. So strong that you might choke, but it is totally worth it. And while I can assure you that you will survive, just make sure you have your windows open and kitchen hood running!
You can put them in an airtight container and keep it where you keep your dried herbs or other condiments. Thai chili flakes stay good for months. But as mentioned earlier in the post, the older they are, the lower the quality. So it's probably best to make a batch that you can finish within a month or two.
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:
- Toasted Rice Powder
- Thai Cashew Chicken
- Thai Garlic Pork | Moo Gratiem
- Thai Egg Salad | Yum Kai Tom
- Butterfly Pea Milk
How To Make Thai Chili Flakes (Prik Bon)
- 3 lose cups dried Thai chilies about 2.5 ounces
- Heat a pan over low heat (with no oil), add the dried chilies and stir continuously for about 5-7 minutes or until brown. Once done, the chilies should be a little shiny and darker in color but not blackened.
- Let the chilies cool completely. Then, grind in a blender or food processor until the desired texture is reached.
- Store in an airtight container and use within 1-2 months. (Thai chili flakes last longer than a few months but they lose their heat and flavor over time)