Jeow Som (Lao spicy dipping sauce) is a delectable sauce known for its spicy, tangy, and umami-rich flavors. Enjoy the authentic flavors of Lao cuisine with this simple and beloved staple that pairs well with many dishes using simple ingredients. Quick, easy, and ready to serve in 10 minutes!
Jeow Som pairs extremely well with Thai beef jerky, Lao papaya salad, and sticky rice. Together, they make the perfect Isaan or Lao meal.
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- What is Jeow Som?
- Jeow Som vs. Jeow Mak Len
- Ingredients for Jeow Som
- How to Make Jeow Som
- Garnishing Options
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- What to Serve with Jeow Som
- Top Tip
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Laos's famous jeow sauces?
- More Recipes You'll Love
- Jeow Som (Lao Spicy Dipping Sauce)
- Related Recipes
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's an easy recipe with simple ingredients packed full of bold flavors!
- It's versatile. Use it as a condiment, dip, or marinade. Don't limit the sauce to just your Asian food. Try it with any dishes to enhance flavors and taste.
- Complex yet approachable. Revel in the multifaceted taste that seamlessly balances spicy, sour, and savory notes.
- Flavorful. Combining Thai chiles, garlic, fish sauce, and lime juice creates a memorable flavor blend for your taste buds. It will quickly become your new favorite sauce.
What is Jeow Som?
Jeow Som is a classic Lao dipping sauce that captures the essence of Lao cuisine. Its base ingredients include fiery chili peppers, aromatic garlic, zesty lime juice, and the umami depth of fish sauce. This sauce adds a layer of complexity to dishes and is the perfect condiment for a variety of foods.
Jeow Som vs. Jeow Mak Len
Jeow Som and Jeow Mak Len are traditional Lao sauces popular among the Lao people. The main difference between them lies in their ingredients and flavors.
Jeow Som is a simple and spicy sauce known for its deliciously spicy taste. It is made using chili peppers, which give it its spiciness.
On the other hand, Jeow Mak Len is a more complex sauce incorporating roasted herbs. It is made by roasting tomatoes, shallots, and garlic, which gives it a rich and smoky flavor.
So, while Jeow Som is straightforward and spicy, Jeow Mak Len offers a more intricate taste with its roasted ingredients.
Ingredients for Jeow Som
- Garlic. Garlic is adjustable in this recipe. If you love garlic, add a 2-3 more cloves to the sauce. Or less as needed for your taste buds!
- Chilli peppers. Use fresh Thai chili peppers. Serrano or jalapenos work as substitutes if Thai chilis are not available.
- Fish sauce (Nam Pa). Made from anchovy extract, fish sauce adds a salty umami flavor to the sauce.
- Fresh lime juice. Lime juice works well, but add a teaspoon extra as the lime juice is sharper and more sour than the lemon juice. Tamarind works as well as a substitute, but it will change the color and texture of Jeow Som to a darker and thicker.
- Sugar. Use white, palm, or brown sugar.
- Cilantro. Use both cilantro stems and leaves. The stems add more intense flavors to the sauce, so don't shy away from the stems.
How to Make Jeow Som
Jeow Som using a mortar and pestle. The traditional method
Step 1. Using a mortar and pestle, start by pounding the chilis and garlic together until you have a smooth paste.
Step 2. Add fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar to the mortar. Use the pestle to grind and stir the ingredients until the sugar dissolves gently.
Step 3. Add the chopped cilantro to the mix and stir together again. Taste your Joew Som and adjust with more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar for your taste buds. Add more cilantro as well if you'd prefer in your sauce. That's it!
Jeow Som in a food processor. Or a spice grinder.
Step 1. Blend the Ingredients using a spice grinder or small food processor. Combine the prepared chili peppers, garlic cloves, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of liquid to help turn the blades. It can be fish sauce or lime juice (allocated for the recipe, not in addition). Blend until you achieve a harmonious and finely textured sauce.
Step 2. Scoop everything into a serving bowl and add the fish sauce, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. I like to use my mortar and pestle for this as they fit and create an authentic feel to your sauce. Stir well using a spoon or spatula.
Step 3. Adjusting the Flavors. Taste your Jeow Som and make any necessary adjustments to suit your palate. You can add more lime juice for extra tang, sugar for sweetness, or fish sauce for saltiness. That's it! Jeow Som is now ready to grace your table. Yum!
It is an impeccable companion to grilled meats, sticky rice (khao niew), or fresh vegetables. Its spicy and tangy profile makes it essential to classic Lao dishes like papaya salad.
- Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro leaves and stems over Jeow Som for an extra layer of aroma and flavor.
- For added herbaceous flavor, add 1-2 teaspoons of finely chopped kaffir lime leaves, green onion, or chives.
- Add more chopped garlic if you prefer a more garlic taste.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Be careful when handling Thai chili peppers, as they can be extremely spicy. Kitchen gloves are handy to help protect your skin from the burn of the oils of the peppers.
- Adjust the spice level by adding or reducing the number of chili peppers.
- Use monk fruit sugar, honey, or agave as sweeteners for a healthier substitute.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- Small food processor (for efficient blending)
- Spice grinder. This set is great as I use one for my spices and the other for coffee and keep them separate so the flavors and smells don't mix!
- Stone mortar and pestle
- Kitchen gloves
What to Serve with Jeow Som
- Jeow Som is a versatile condiment that pairs wonderfully with grilled meats (Moo Ping, Pork ribs, Beef ribs, sticky rice, Shrimp BBQ, and fresh vegetables. It's also an essential component of Lao papaya salad.
- Experiment with your Jeow Som by adding ingredients like chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, or a touch of palm sugar for a unique twist.
- If you can't find Thai chili peppers, you can use other hot chili varieties, adjusting the quantity to your preferred spice level.
- Store any leftover Jeow Som in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It maintains its vibrant flavors for several days, up to 5 days.
- To balance the heat of Jeow Som, prepare a refreshing Lao cucumber salad as a side dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Jeow Som can be prepared and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
The spice level of Jeow Som depends on the number of chili peppers you use. You can adjust it to your preference by adding more or fewer peppers.
Absolutely! Jeow Som makes an excellent marinade for BBQ meats, infusing them with its vibrant flavors.
Yes, there are various Jeow sauces in Lao cuisine, each with unique ingredients and flavors. Jeow Mak Len is just one of them.
What are Laos's famous jeow sauces?
Laos is known for its delicious jeow sauces. Here are some famous ones:
1. Jeow Het. A spicy mushroom sauce with roasted mushrooms, chilies, garlic, and herbs.
2. Jeow Bee. A tangy paste from fermented soybeans, chilies, and garlic. It adds a pungent, rich, umami flavor to dishes.
3. Jeow Bong. A fiery chili paste combining dried chilies, garlic, shallots, and other spices. It's commonly used as a condiment or dipping sauce.
4. Jeow Som. A sweet and sour sauce made with lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, and chilies. It's often served with grilled meats and vegetables.
5. Jaew Mak Len. A versatile sauce made from roasted tomato chilies, shallots, garlic, and fish sauce. It can be customized with different ingredients like tomatoes, herbs, or roasted eggplant.
More Recipes You'll Love
- Jeow Mak Len is a Lao tomato sauce with a smoky flavor from roasted herbs and vegetables.
- How to make Sticky rice (Khao Niew) with a bamboo basket. Or make your sweet rice without a steamer with this recipe.
- Lao Papaya Salad: A Spicy Symphony of Flavors
- Moo Ping, a classic Thai street food with grilled pork on bamboo skewers
- Thai chicken wings with oyster sauce
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These are my favorite dishes to serve with Jeow Som