Laos cuisine is known for is delicious spicy dipping sauce. In this post below, I’m going to talk all about nam jaew mak len, which is a traditional condiment that is accompanies grilled meat, fresh vegetables, or fried fish.
This delicious sauce only requires just a couple of ingredients without a special trip to your asian grocer!
Nam jaew mak len can be pretty addicting, and can keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
While this spicy dipping sauce is one of MANY in Lao culture, it’s actually one of my favorites. Each family probably has their own version of it, but the basic ingredients are essentially the same: tomatoes, garlic, shallots, fish sauce, sugar, cilantro, and green onions.
Lao people are obsessed with dipping sauces, and this one is a fan favorite.
Lao Spicy Dipping Sauce: Nam Jaew Mak Len
When any dish is translated into English, you can bet that there are going to be many variations in names. Some of these include:
- jaew mak len
- jiew mak len
- jiew marg len
- nam jeaw mak
- Thai dipping sauce
- Lao dipping sauce
The word jaew (as well as the other ways it’s translated when spelled out) means sauce. The words “mak len” means tomato. So it literally translates to tomato sauce.
What Nam Jaew Mak Len Tastes Like
If jaew sauce had to be explained, it’s almost like a spicy salsa, with a smokey flavor. Most often, it lends itself to be on the more sour side in various adaptations of the recipe. You’ll definitely taste the garlic in my recipe, but it also is spicy and tart!
How to Make Jaew Mak Len (Laos Spicy Dipping Sauce)
2 roma tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 small shallots, peeled
6 Thai chile peppers or birds eye peppers, chopped (more if you like it spicy)
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of green onion, chopped
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
Directions for Jaew Sauce
You’ll want to cut both tomatoes in half, lengthways.
Preheat a broiler.
Next, char the tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and Thai chile peppers to allow it to bring out the smokey flavor for the dish. We used a panini press as a shortcut to do this. Ensure that the vegetables are charred, but not burnt.
Next, use a mortar and pestle to mash the vegetables together until it is mashed really well.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor on the pulse setting.
Next, add in the sugar, fish sauce, salt, and chopped peppers until everything is melded together.
Lastly, stir in both the cilantro and green onions. Mix well.
Serve with sticky rice, grilled meats, seafood, and larb.
What Do You Eat with Lao Spicy Dipping Sauce
This Lao dipping sauce is typically paired with grilled meats, steamed sticky rice, and anything else you care to dip. It often is set aside along with Lao minced meat salad. If you are eating a truly authentic Lao meal, you’ll want to have nam jaew mak len with your main dish.
Popular fresh vegetables that Lao people eat with name jaew are raw long beans, raw cabbage, and raw Thai eggplants that are quartered.
A western way to eat this is to wrap sticky rice with lettuce and chicken (almost like a taco), and adding nam jaew on top like a salsa!
I hope that you fall in love with jaew mak len spicy dipping sauce as much as Lao people love it! Jaew mak len has a uniquely distinct smokey, sweet, spicy, and sour flavor that melds everything into a wonderful bite! This delicious tomato dipping sauce will be something you want to keep on hand when you have a traditional Lao meal!
Feel free to add more or less fish sauce and sugar to get the tartness you need! As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 155Total Fat: 7.6gSaturated Fat: 1.1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1410mgCarbohydrates: 19.3gFiber: 4.9gSugar: 11.9gProtein: 5.1g
Feel free to add more or less fish sauce and sugar to get the tartness you need!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.