Citizens, the glorious country of Thailand has just finished investing their new King, the first royal ascension in most Thai’s lifetime – and in concordance with their celebrations, I decided to share a second Thai recipe with TFD Nation! Nam jim jaew is the spicier cousin of the standard Thai dipping sauce, and is used exclusively with grilled meats, especially fatty pork belly,
The ability of Thai cuisine to balance sweet, savory, spicy and umami in a single dish is extraordinary, and this dipping sauce absolutely fits the bill!
Nam chim or nam jim is Thai for “dipping sauce”. It can refer to a wide variety of dipping sauces in Thai cuisine, with many of them a combination of salty, sweet, spicy and sour.
Nam chim tend to be more watery in consistency than nam phrik (Thai chili pastes). Although Sriracha sauce is commonly known as sot Sriracha in Thailand (sot is the Thai pronunciation of the English word sauce), it is sometimes called nam chim Sriracha or nam phrik Sriracha.
As noted on the excellent blog shesimmers.com in this lightly-edited excerpt:
In Thailand, when you buy Gai Yang (grilled spatchcocked chicken) or Mu Ping (Skewered grilled pork), the vendor almost always gives you two kinds of Nam Jim or dipping sauces to take home along with the grilled protein. One, of course, is the indispensable sweet and tangy chilli sauce; the other is one of the many varieties of the smokier, less sweet dipping sauce, Jaew (แจ่ว).
Though not as well known internationally as its sweeter cousin, Jaew is no less a favorite among Thais. This explains why two kinds of dipping sauces accompany every grilled meat purchase — to eliminate the agony which customers would otherwise have to go through in choosing one or the other.
It’s difficult to pin down the definitive Jaew recipe since every family has their own way of making it. One thing, however, remains constant: just as the sweet chilli sauce is always made of fresh red chillies, Jaew is always made with dried red chillies. Traditionally, the chillies are lightly toasted over open flame and pounded into tiny flakes.
Then, true to its northeastern origin, toasted rice powder is also a required ingredient in many family recipes. The herbs and aromatics then go into a mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, and sometimes palm sugar. As you can see, Jaew, for all intents and purposes, is the dressing for Laab (Larb or Lahb) – (ลาบ) even though most people wouldn’t see it that way.
This recipe barely qualifies as cooking, given that you are literally just combining the ingredients and serving. However, if you choose to make your own roasted chili flakes, there is definitely some cooking involved as you dry-toast the chiles. Should you prefer not to undertake this step, I provide you with a simple, out-of-the-bottle alternative: Turkish urfa biber chili flakes have the necessary smoky profile and proper flake size. You can buy urfa biber flakes here and puya chiles for making your own flakes here.
Roasted rice powder can be purchased here, Thai-style Maggi sauce can be found here and tamarind concentrate can be bought here. Thai palm sugar is available here and my preferred brand of fish sauce here.
This recipe is really simplicity itself, Citizens – as we are now entering grilling season, this will be a mighty addition to your outdoor recipe repertoire!
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