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Authentic Lao Jaew Sauce (Smokey and Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce)

Learn how to make authentic Lao Jaew sauce, which is a deliciously spicy yet smokey tomato dipping sauce.

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.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

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
  • jeaw
  • Thai dipping sauce
  • Lao dipping sauce
  • jeaw
  • jaeo

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! 

Here are some other variations of jaew recipes you might want to try!

How to Make Jaew Mak Len (Laos Spicy Dipping Sauce)

Ingredients

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.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

Next, use a mortar and pestle to mash the vegetables together until it is mashed really well.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor on the pulse setting.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

Next, add in the sugar, fish sauce, salt, and chopped peppers until everything is melded together.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

Lastly, stir in both the cilantro and green onions. Mix well.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

Serve with sticky rice, grilled meats, seafood, and larb.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

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.

jaew mak len dipping sauce

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!

jaew mak len dipping sauce

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!

Other Lao Recipes You Might Like

Jaew Sauce (Lao Jaew Mak Len Spicy Dipping Sauce)

Jaew Sauce (Lao Jaew Mak Len Spicy Dipping Sauce)

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This authentic and spicy Lao dipping sauce has wonderful flavors that include a distinct smokey melding of all of it's ingredients. It is a great accompaniment to sticky rice, fresh vegetables, and especially grilled meats!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

    1. Preheat a broiler to high heat.
    2. Char tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and Thai chiles by putting it 4" from the broiler until slightly charred.
    3. Let cool.
    4. Use a food processor on pulse to the charred tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and Thai chiles.
    5. Put it in a large bowl. Next, add in the rest of the ingredients.
    6. Mix well. Serve.

Notes

Feel free to add more or less fish sauce and sugar to get the tartness you need!

Nutrition Information:
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
         jaew mak len dipping sauce

Laos Jaew dipping sauce with tomatoes and ingredients

Laos Jaew dipping sauce with tomatoes and ingredients

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Meela

Friday 6th of March 2020

I love jaew mak Len. I was actually looking for an online recipes for jaew badek for some dill pickles and came across your page. Thank you Lane, for your this authentic Laos recipes. Like they say “baw ped baw saap” 😄

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