Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thai-Style Sweet Chili Sauce – Nam Jim for the Win

As promised, here is my take on Thai-style sweet chili sauce, or Nam Jim, if you want to sound cool. I do a sort of hybrid between the cooked and fresh versions, and using this technique, I think you get the best of both worlds.

If you can’t find these beautiful Thai bird’s eye chilies, you can make this sauce with any other combination of fresh, preserved, and/or dried chilies. Things like jalapeno, red Fresno, or Serrano chilies work great, as does habanero. If it’s hot, give it a shot.

Above and beyond the array of deep-fried treats you enjoy this stuff with at your favorite southeast-Asian restaurant, it also makes an incredibly good sauce for grilled meats, especially chicken and pork. Even the most insipid boneless-skinless breast shines, once shined with this sauce.

And I wasn’t kidding about the fish sauce being mandatory. It really is a key ingredient here, so I’m counting on you to either get some, or maybe sit this one out. As always, the amounts listed below are what tastes “perfect” to me, but what do I know? So, be sure to taste and adjust before you serve. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 1 cup of Thai-Style Sweet Chili Sauce:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons sambal chili sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
6 cloves finely crushed garlic
2 tablespoons finely minced Thai chili peppers (or more of a less spicy pepper like Frenso, Jalapeno, or Serrano)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


Kennapop3 said...

I have planted two dozen peppers sadly no Thai Peppers. I know I can find some though. Thanks Chef John

Kennapop3 said...

Just got an older Father's Day recipe in my youtube feed. S'more Ice Cream pie. I will make this for my self and my three brothers'in laws at our Annual reunion. Always on father Day Weekend (and the whole week following. We might even share with our wives and 17 kids and grand kids. Five pies should do it......

Singleot said...

Always nice to try a new sauce. Thanks

My current dipping sauce is a throw together. 3 parts blackberry jam, seedless, with 1 part each Sambal, vinegar and soy sauce.

Chris K. said...

If you can't find bird's eye chiles, a good substitute is pequin chiles. They seem to be a little more common at most supermarkets. Small, red, and mean although slightly less hot than bird's eye.

suvro said...

There is an interesting story behind why Thai chilies are called "Bird's Rye" chilies.

Chilies are native to South America, and traveled from the New World to the Old World. Peppercorns are native to Old World.

In South America (Peru, Chile, and Bolivia in particular), the wild chilies all grew pointing upwards.
Birds are very fond of chilies, partly because they lack the receptor for capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat.
Early on farmers realized that if they were to breed chilis that pointed down, these could be hidden by the leaves, and thus less damaged by birds. As a result most of the mild chilies like capsicum grow pointing down.

The Thai chili - prik khi nu (rat's dropping - since it also does look like that!) is thus known as Bird's Eye chili.

Anonymous said...

This IS the recipe that I so desired...Thanks CJ!

Unknown said...

looks great, how long would this keep in the fridge?

Unknown said...

Made this today with some of my home grown chillies and it is absolutely delicious. The fish sauce really takes it to the next level. Great recipe chef John!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Chef John, for this lovely recipe. My Father in Law brought a large bag of Thai chillis to my house today and after some quick googling I came across your recipe.

Right now it is cooling on my kitchen counter and its taste is fantastic.

One of my favourite ways of using sweet chilli sauce is to bag up 8 chicken thighs, pour in 1 cup of sweet chillis sauce, add a tsp of ginger, 2 crushed garlic cloves, tablespoon of sesame seed oil and a pinch of salt. Massage the sauce in the bag so everything is evenly spread. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

The next day grab empty contents into a casserole dish and pop it into the oven at 180c.

Tuza HU said...

Do you know what the pH of this sauce is? I wonder if it's acid enough to water bath can for gifts.

Claire said...

This is the second time I’ve made this recipe. I love the taste of bird eye peppers but can’t take the heat. So this time I cut the peppers as instructed and dumped them into a bowl of cold water. Most of the seeds fall to the bottom, peppers float. Took a small strainer and dipped them out. Actually did it twice, just to be on the safe side. It worked perfectly. Probably won’t do the second dip next time as the sauce was a tad TOO mild for me but on the other hand, I can use more peppers for the taste bump. We go through a lot of Thai sweet chili sauce so this is a real $$$ saver for me. Thanks Chef John.