This Thai chili dipping sauce or nam jim jaew is sweet, sour and a little spicy and crunchy. It's very quick and easy to make and great with any type of grilled or fried meat, sticky rice and fresh vegetables. If you're a fan of Thai food, you're definitely going to love this flavorful sauce!
WHAT IS THAI CHILI DIPPING SAUCE OR NAM JIM JAEW?
Nam jim jaew is a dipping sauce originating from the Isan or Northeastern region of Thailand, but you can easily find it throughout the country. People from that region move to different parts of Thailand and a lot of them open an Isan restaurant or become a street food vendor selling Isan food. For many Thais, this sauce is a favorite because it's got everything you need. It's sour, sweet, spicy, and comes with a smoky flavor and crunchy texture. While a few other Thai sauces use fresh chilies, nam jim jaew is different in that it uses roasted Thai dried chili flakes or prik bon.
In this post, I'll explain what other ingredients you need and how to make nam jim jaew, as well as what you can enjoy it with.
- 2 shallots
- 1 green onion
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of roasted Thai chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon of toasted rice powder
NOTES ABOUT THAI CHILI FLAKES AND TOASTED RICE POWDER
In order to make the best version of this Thai chili dipping sauce, I highly recommend you make your own toasted rice powder and Thai chili flakes. You can click the photos above to visit my how-to guides and learn how to make them.
For the roasted chili flakes, everyone's level of tolerance to spicy food is different, so you can use more of less than suggested. Keep in mind, though, that nam jim jaew isn't supposed to be super spicy. But if that's what you like, then go for it!
As for the toasted rice powder, you can adjust the amount you want to use. This ingredient brings a crunchy texture and some thickness to the sauce. So, if you want your jaew sauce to be thicker, use more toasted rice powder. If you want it runnier, use less.
HOW TO MAKE THAI CHILI DIPPING SAUCE
1. Remove the root of the green onion and finely chop the rest. Then, peel the shallots and thinly slice them.
2. Pour the fish sauce and lime juice into a small bowl, followed by the granulated sugar. After that, use a spoon to stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
3. Add the chili flakes, toasted rice powder, chopped green onion and sliced shallots and mix everything together with a spoon. Enjoy the sauce with your main dish!
WHAT CAN YOU EAT WITH JAEW DIPPING SAUCE?
Usually, jaew dipping sauce is eaten with grilled and deep-fried meats. If you go to a somtam (papaya salad) stand or Isan restaurant and order grilled chicken, grilled catfish, grilled pork neck or grilled beef, they'll give you this sauce. Oftentimes, stuff enjoyed with jaew sauce is Isan food and accompanied by sticky rice. However, you can also enjoy it with steamed rice and dishes like Thai garlic pork (moo gratiem), Thai omelette (kai jeow) and fried sun-dried beef (nua dad deaw) or even just boiled eggs.
HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP THIS THAI CHILI DIPPING SAUCE?
This sauce is best when still fresh. As it contains fresh ingredients like shallots, green onion and lime juice, you might want to try and finish it within a meal. If you let the sauce sit for a long time, even if it hasn't gone bad, the toasted rice powder will soak up the liquid and the sauce will get dry.
Thai Chili Dipping Sauce (Nam Jim Jaew) Recipe
- Remove the root of the green onion and finely chop the rest. Then, peel the shallots and thinly slice them.
- Pour the fish sauce and lime juice into a small bowl, followed by the granulated sugar. After that, use a spoon to stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Add the chili flakes, toasted rice powder, chopped green onion and sliced shallots and mix everything together with a spoon. Enjoy the sauce with your main dish!