Occasionally I stumble across flavours so right I want to spend more time with them. Friday’s dressing is today’s jaew.
Nam jim jaew is an Isan/Lao dipping sauce usually served with grilled meat. It’s complex, smoky, spicy, and unlike any thing you’re likely to encounter outside of the area of it’s origin and perhaps in a few good Thai restaurants divided between a very small handful of cities. It other words, it’s fucking sensational.
There are, like so many other condiments, multiple versions that go by the same name – there is no right recipe. What distinguishes a good one from a bad one is balance. It should be sour enough to make you salivate, salty enough to make you reach for a beer, spicy enough to scare you a bit, and sweet enough to very briefly sooth your delicate constitution. Customarily, nam jim jaew is a tightrope-walk of lime, fish sauce, palm sugar, chilies, shallots and sometimes tamarind.
This version isn’t traditional but it is, like any good nam jim jaew, a thrill ride. Based on an existing jaew recipe of my own, it borrows Mexican chipotle to great effect.
- 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) chopped peeled and cored pineapple
- ⅓ cup (80 mL) pineapple juice
- ¼ cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed limejuice
- ¼ cup (60 mL) fish sauce
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) golden brown sugar, or finely chopped light palm sugar
- ¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped sawtooth herb or cilantro
- 3 small Asian shallots, or 1 large French shallot halved, thinly sliced
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 2 tsp (10 mL) ground dried chipotle
- In a blender, liquefy the pineapple, pineapple juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Turn out into a non-reactive bowl and stir in remaining ingredients; allow to stand for 30 minutes, taste and adjust fish sauce, limejuice, and chipotle to taste if desired.
- makes a killer dip for chilled seafood
- terrific with pork satay, or any grilled pork for that matter
- use it to dress a cool rice and crab salad
- drizzle over rice noodles
- fish kebabs!