There are so many types of Thai chili pastes. Most non-Thais are introduced to chili paste via tom yum goong. This type of chili paste is sweet with a dark thick body and red oil. For Thai people, chili paste is versatile. It can be eaten as a side dish as dipping sauce with fresh vegetables, as component in other recipes such as yum (salad) or tom yum, or as fusion food on a piece of bread.
This type of chili paste should be accurately called nam prig pud but most people know it as nam prig pow. The term pow is referred to roasting method in an open flame until the outside is charred. Pud (or pad) is stir fry method ie. Pad Thai – sitr fried. This chili paste is made with ground spices, then stir fried with oil. The true 'nam prig pow' has roasted ingredients and is not stir fried with oil. However, the term 'nam prig pow' now includes 'nam prig pud', and often 'nam prig pud' refers exclusively to 'nam prig pow,' as evident in store-bought chili paste.