Nuoc Cham Dressing

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1/2 tsp Thai shrimp paste
7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Thai chili, stemmed and finely chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup grated coconut palm sugar or packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce


Wrap the shrimp paste in a small piece of aluminum foil.  Using a pair of tons, hold the foil package directly over the flame of a gas burner (or place it under the broiler in your oven) for 1 minute to "toast" the shrimp paste.  You will smell a strong fish odor, but don't worry; it will not translate to your dressing.  Remove the toasted shrimp paste from the foil and place in a small mixing bowl.  Add garlic, Thai chili, lime juice, coconut palm sugar and fish sauce.  Break up the shrimp paste with the back of a spoon and stir to combine with the other ingredients.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no longer than overnight.