Jeow Mak Len Sauce, a roasted tomato dipping sauce, is a delicious staple in Lao and Thailand's Isaan region (Northeast Thailand). The rich, smoky flavors from charring vegetables and herbs before mixing them into a thick, savory paste make this sauce addictive! Spiciness level adaptable!
This Jeow Mak Len recipe is created to pair with this Thai beef jerky recipe. The charred flavors of roasted herbs combined with Thai sauces and seasoning make this recipe the perfect match for Thai jerky. It's my favorite sauce to eat with Thai beef jerky.
For spicy sauce lovers, you won't be able to resist this flavorful and spicy dipping sauce made with roasted tomato, chili peppers, garlic, and shallots.
- Thai and Lao Cuisines
- Why You'll Love Jeow Mak Len
- What is Jeow Mak Len Sauce?
- What are Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces?
- Ingredients for Jeaw Mak Len Dipping Sauces
- How to Make Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces
- Serving Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Helpful Kitchen Tools for Making Jeow
- Top Tip
- Types of Jeow Dipping Sauces
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Recipes You'll Love
- Jeow Mak Len Sauce
Thai and Lao Cuisines
Lao and Thai food are very similar, especially from the Isaan region where I grew up. My Thai family is of Laos and Khmer origins, and where we grew up is a melting pot of many cultures in one place.
Growing up in Thailand, we didn't have an oven. Instead, we used an earthen charcoal grill. Roasting ingredients for a recipe like this over direct heat created an intense flavor profile full of depth and aroma. If you have a grill, use it for grilling the vegetables in this recipe. You'll love the result.
Why You'll Love Jeow Mak Len
- Versatile Pairings: Jewo Mak Len is perfect for everything from grilled meats to fresh vegetables.
- Use it as a perfect dipping sauce for a charcuterie board for BBQs and dinner parties.
- It keeps a long time in the freezer! Keep the sauce in a small glass jar and thaw to room temperature before serving.
- This recipe uses simple ingredients but is full of bold flavors!
- It's healthy! All the natural herbs and vegetables used are healthy. Substitute white sugar with
What is Jeow Mak Len Sauce?
Jeow mak Len sauce is a traditional Lao spicy chili sauce. It is made by blending fresh ingredients like chili peppers, garlic, shallots, and sometimes galangal or ginger. The mixture is then typically seasoned with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and sometimes shrimp paste for added depth of flavor. This versatile sauce can be used as a dip, marinade, or condiment, adding spice to dishes like grilled meats, steamed vegetables, or noodles. Jeow mak Len sauce is beloved for its fiery heat and bold taste, making it a popular condiment in Lao cuisine.
What are Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces?
Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces are an assortment of flavorful sauces integral to Lao cuisine. They add depth and dimension to dishes, enhancing their overall taste. These sauces often feature ingredients like chili peppers, garlic, lime juice, and fish sauce, creating a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate.
Ingredients for Jeaw Mak Len Dipping Sauces
You will need key ingredients to create this savory Lao chili paste. Start by gathering some garlic cloves, a cup of fresh cilantro, 2-inch pieces of shallot, and tomatoes. Combining these ingredients will give the sauce its distinct and savory flavor.
- Chilli peppers. (such as Thai chiles). Use any spicy peppers you have.
- Garlic cloves. The charred garlic adds a depth of flavor to this recipe.
- Shallot. I highly recommend using only shallot; do not be tempted to use purple or red onion for this recipe. It won't yield the same authentic flavors.
- Lime juice. Use as needed, as the tomatoes used will have different acidic levels. Start small and add more as needed until your taste buds are content!
- Fish sauce. Adds rich umami flavors distinctive to Thai and Lao cuisines. Don't skip it.
- Roasted tomatoes. I tested cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes (from my garden), but use any tomatoes you have.
- Green onions. Use both the white and leafy green parts.
- Cilantro. You'll need a handful of cilantro to add to the sauce, and save a few leaves for garnish, too.
- Fish sauce. Also called Nam Pla or Nam Pa, it is the main salty umami seasoning sauce. Soy sauce is not recommended as a substitute.
- Sugar. White, brown, or palm sugar works great for this sauce.
Optional. Add Padaek sauce, a fermented Thai/Lao fish sauce, to make this recipe truly authentic. Read more about different sauces in Thai cooking here.
How to Make Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces
Step 1. Wash and dry the vegetables. Then, chop the vegetables and herbs for roasting. If using Roma tomatoes, remove the pits and slice the tomatoes into halves pieces. The same goes for shallots. Slice in halves and arrange the herbs on a wire rack.
Step 2. Turn the oven to broiler mode. Place the rack of vegetables on the middle rack and broil for 8-10 minutes. The peppers and garlic will most likely be done first. And they burn quickly, so keep a close eye on those and remove them once they are charred.
Step 3. Once the vegetables are charred, remove the rack and turn the oven off. Allow it to cool close to room temperature if possible.
Step 4. Remove the shells of garlic and shallot and place everything in a food processor. Add the sauces, seasoning, and blitz until you have a thick tomato sauce. More if you like a more fine paste. I like textures and chunks in my sauce.
Step 5. If using a mortar and pestle, pound the chili peppers and cloves garlic first until you have a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the ingredients, pound until smooth, then season with fish sauce, lime juice, and peppers. Having a large mortar is helpful for this method.
That's it! Taste and adjust the flavors with more fish sauce, lime juice, or herbs! Serve with any of your favorite foods!
Serving Lao Jeow Dipping Sauces
- Serve your new favorite Jeow sauce with various dishes, such as grilled meats, sticky/sweet rice, or raw vegetables.
- Using pork skin or rind as a dip is excellent for this sauce. (One of my favorite things to eat with Jeow sauces!)
- Create a traditional Lao meal by pairing Jeow sauces with glutinous rice (khao niew).
- Eat Jeow sauce with regular rice sprinkled with fresh herbs, and you have a simple, quick Lao food to enjoy.
- This Lao dipping sauce is perfect for dipping sticky rice, beef jerky,
- Use Jeow Mak Len as a main dip for chips, pita or baquette. It can be used as a base for a spread on soft, warm bread to make sandwiches or an open-face sandwich.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- When roasting, use toothpicks or bamboo skewers to thread the small chili peppers and garlic cloves. They tend to get lost through the racks, or the grill grates if toasting them without the skewers.
- The peppers will roast the quickest, so keep a close eye on them. This is also why threading them in skewers or toothpicks is helpful.
- Adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or fewer chili peppers to the sauces.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for Making Jeow
- Mortar and pestle (for authentic preparation)
- Food processor (for smoother consistency)
- Bamboo skewers (for serving)
- Prepare a few types of Jeow sauces to offer your guests an authentic taste of Lao cuisine during your next meal gathering.
Types of Jeow Dipping Sauces
Jeow in Lao means to dip, like scooping something up like a dip. There are also many Jeow sauces (and many different spellings). Below are more common and popular Lao sauces in Lao and Thai restaurants.
- Jeow Bong: This sauce features charred tomatoes, garlic, and chili peppers, creating a smoky and slightly sweet flavor profile.
- Jeow Som: A spicy dipping sauce made with chili peppers, garlic, and lime juice. Perfect for adding a zesty kick to your dishes.
- Jeow Het: With grilled mushroom as its base, Jeow Het offers an earthy umami flavor enhanced by chilies and herbs.
- Jeow Padaek: Incorporating the savory Lao fish sauce known as "padaek," this sauce adds depth to your meals.
Frequently Asked Questions
The spiciness can be tailored to your taste by adjusting the amount of chili peppers.
Serve them as condiments alongside your main dishes, allowing diners to customize their flavor experience.
They can also be used as marinades or glazes for meats and vegetables.
The secret lies in achieving the right balance of spiciness, acidity, and umami, which varies depending on the type of Jeow.
These sauces are best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and up to 3 months in the freezer.
More Recipes You'll Love
- Lao papaya salad
- Lao cucumber salad
- How to make sticky rice (without a bamboo basket steamer)
- Green bean salad
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