The most popular and flavorful Thai dipping sauces is Nam Jim Jaew. It is a fish sauce based recipe that is renowned for bringing complex flavors to otherwise bland sticky rice and grilled meats. It's amazing how a few simple ingredients can create such a flavorful dipping sauce.
It is all things that the Thai cuisine stands for - savory, sweet, and spicy flavors, combined in the right proportions to create the perfect pairing with not just Thai dishes but also other Southeast Asian dishes from different cuisines. Read on to learn how to make this basic Nam Jim Jaew at home in less than a couple of minutes.
All About Thai Nam Jim Jaew
Nam Jim Jaew is a delicious dipping sauce that is often served with sticky rice and other grilled meats.The sauce pairs really well with grilled meats and sticky rice. Dishes such as Thai-style pork ribs, Thai grilled chicken, and Thai baby back pork ribs are some of the most popular dishes that this sauce is served with. At the foundation of the recipe, Nam Jim Jaew uses fish sauce as a base.
The sauce is truly a universal type of sauce that you can try with an endless list of dishes. Even grilled fish tastes divine with Jeow dip. Crispy dishes such as crispy pork belly are amazing with it too. Don't be afraid to try it with some turkey too, as it is good with almost all types of grilled meat dishes. Pieng Seen Naam Tok is a classic Thai meal that benefits greatly from a generous drizzling of this sauce.
Steamed vegetables are great for dipping as well, which includes small egg plant. It can truly be paired with anything that works well with the spicy, sweet, and savory flavors.
What does Fish Sauce Jeow taste like?
Nam Jim Jaew can be best described as a perfect medley of sweet, salty, and spicy. The first bite of food that you have with this dipping sauce will hit you with a wave of freshness from the cilantro. This is why it goes so well with rich meat flavors.
There are some additional tart flavors from the lime juice. Some regional variations of this sauce will have some additional dimensions too, such as adding smokey heat from roasted chile, swapping lime for lemon, the herby freshness of lemongrass, and swapping granulated sugar for palm sugar.
Tips and Tricks Before Making Jeow
Since this is a fish sauce-based dipping sauce, the quality of the fish sauce is an important factor. The fish sauce can make all the difference in the taste. Using a cheaper or lesser-known fish sauce in this case is not recommended, as you wouldn't want to take that risk.
The fish sauce that is a favorite and highly recommended for this sauce is the Squid Brand fish sauce. It is really important to choose the best quality of fish sauce for the intense yet balanced depth of flavor in the Jeow.
Lemon is one of the key ingredients in this dish other than the fish sauce. This is the predominant lender of the tart taste in this sauce. Include or discard the pulp as you wish, based on the amount of citrus you like your sauces. However, make sure to use fresh lemon juice and not any of the bottled stuff.
Asian Grocery Store List
As always, I share the ingredients you'll need to pick up at your local Asian grocer. Each ingredient is important, so try to not skip or substitue any of the ingredients if possible. Again, there are a variety of variations depending on whether you are looking for a Thai or a Lao version.
Asian ingredients are the focal point of this dipping sauce. The reason why it has all the great flavors that have so much depth and dimension is the use of various authentic Asian ingredients. Each ingredient serves a specific purpose. So try not to skip or substitute any of the ingredients.
Do not use the ones at the western grocers because Asian grocers often have chilli flakes that come in a variety of heats. I would recommend getting chilli flakes that will provide you with the heat you can handle.
Thai Birds Eye Chilies
Thai bird's eye chilies are infamous for their heat. While you do have the choice to adjust the number of chilies according to your palette, you should keep in mind that a little bit of these goes a long way. The heat isn't the only well-known factor about these though. They have a distinct flavor that adds to this sauce.
You can always find Thai bird's eye chilies at Asian grocery stores. It is quite a staple ingredient in the cuisine. You can store them in your freezer if you buy them in bulk and thaw them whenever you need to use them.
Cilantro (and green onion) can be found at an Asian grocery store really inexpensively.
MSG, or "tasting salt" is an ingredient that is not conventionally used in all dishes. It is strictly optional. However, only a tiny pinch of it can pack a punch of umami and flavor in the simplest of dishes. You can always skip it if you don't like using MSG in your cooking, but do make sure to grab a pack from the Asian grocery store if you intend to use it.
How to Make Asian Fish Sauce Jeow Dipping Sauce
This is a really simple recipe that sticks to the authentic version of Thai Jeow. It is quite easy to follow once you have all the ingredients necessary.
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (to taste)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon green onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
- 1 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- 4 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of Thai birds eye chilis, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of lime juice
- 2 tablespoon of warm water
- In a bowl, mix together MSG, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and warm water. Mix until sugar is dissolved.
- In the same bowl, add in Thai birds eye chilis, garlic, green onion, and cilantro.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 20Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 1435mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
Summary About Thai Sticky Rice Dipping Sauce
Even though Nam Jim Jaew is just a dipping sauce and may not seem like a major part of a meal, it is absolutely delicious as a side dish with sticky rice or grilled emats. The complex and deep flavors of the sauce can elevate the flavors of any dish you pair it with. No matter the type of grilled meat you prefer, make sure to make it taste even better by dipping it in Thai Jeow.
It may seem like this dish comes with a few more ingredients than other non-Asian sauces, but it is truly worth it to include each and every one of them. The sauce is really simple to make at home once you have gathered all the ingredients. Try it out by following our recipe and you won't be disappointed.
More Dipping Sauce Recipes Inspiration
Here are some other dipping sauce recipes you will absolutely love.
- Laos Mushroom Dipping Sauce - Jaew Het
- Laos Chilli Paste Dipping Sauce - Jaew Bong
- Laos Smokey and Spicey Dipping Sauce - Jaew