Chili Tamarind Paste
Place the dried shrimp in a small bowl. Cover the shrimp stir briefly, and drain; set aside.
Pour 1½ cups of the vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan. the oil to approximately 360 degrees over medium-high heat.
Add the garlic and fry until golden brown. Using a slotted transfer the garlic to a bowl lined with paper towels.
Add the shallots to the saucepan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes; the shallots to the bowl with the garlic.
Fry the reserved shrimp in the saucepan for 2 minutes; the bowl.
Fry the chilies until they become brittle, about 30 seconds; them to the bowl. (Allow oil to cool to room temperature discarding.)
Combine the fried ingredients, the remaining oil, and the a food processor; process to form a smooth paste.
Place the paste in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and fish sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
Allow the paste to return to room temperature before placing in an airtight container.
Yields approx. 3 cups
This paste is a study of contrasts. The searingly hot Thai chilies are balanced by the sweetness of the tamarind and brown sugar and the saltiness of the dried shrimp and fish sauce.