How to Make Jaew แจ่ว – Thai Dried Chilli Dipping Sauce

nam jim jaew
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. Fresh galangal, another traditional ingredient, is prepared the same way. 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.

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Thai Dried Chilli Dipping Sauce (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Condiment, Sauce
Serves: Makes approximately one cup
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon galangal powder, optional
  • ⅓ cup fish sauce
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted rice powder (Khao Khua ข้าวคั่ว)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried red pepper flakes (coarsely ground).
  1. Mix everything together in a bowl.
  2. Adjust the taste with more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar, if necessary. The sauce should be predominantly sour and salty.

34 Responses to How to Make Jaew แจ่ว – Thai Dried Chilli Dipping Sauce

  1. doggybloggy June 28, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    I could definitely make do with some of this jaew…your posts are always so – so – so perfect to me.

  2. Jenn June 28, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Mmmm…Had me some grilled meats right now. I love the colors going on in that sauce. It’s like a kelaidascope.

  3. OysterCulture June 28, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    I would be very happy just trying the vast array of sauces coupled with proteins, and starting with Thai dipping sauces seems an obvious choice.

  4. lisaiscooking June 28, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    This sauce sounds fantastic for grilled chicken. I still need to look for galangal powder.

  5. 5 Star Foodie June 29, 2009 at 12:17 am #

    can’t wait to make this, perfect for grilled meats!

  6. KennyT June 29, 2009 at 3:01 am #

    Leela, this Jaew is also good for me to eat with rice, I am a sauce monster. I eat everything with sauce, including rice. ขอบคุณมาก.

  7. Arwen from Hoglet K June 29, 2009 at 3:42 am #

    I hate making decisions, so getting two sauces sounds perfect to me! It is funny that sweet chilli has become more popular than the dried chilli one. I wonder if it’s because it stores better.

  8. Cucinista June 29, 2009 at 8:02 am #

    I want to make this — the only thing stopping me is the near certainty it wouldn’t be as good as your picture looks!

  9. Chef Fresco June 29, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    This looks quite savory. I have to give this a try.

  10. Kelly June 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    That dipping sauce is making my mouth water! As soon as I can eat solid food again, I am grilling some meat and making this sauce!

  11. Juliana June 29, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    Yummie…my mouth is watering…I can only imagine the falvor of this sauce…yummie.

  12. sheryl June 30, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    So excited to use this for the next barbecue!

  13. The Duo Dishes June 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    Once again you give us a glimpse into something we’ve never seen or heard before. Putting this over a pork dumpling or pork skewers comes to mind. Yum…

  14. s. stockwell July 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    Wow, thanks, we needed this for our Santa Barbara Dumplings. We made a sauce but this helps to make it better! Best, s

  15. impulsively March 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Can the galangal powder be substituted for freshly grated galangal, and if so, how much? Thanks!

  16. Admin March 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    impulsively – You can actually leave it out completely. But if you’d like to use fresh galangal, only a teaspoon would do.

  17. impulsively March 17, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    Hi! Thanks for letting me know how much fresh galangal to substitute.
    I was wondering if you could tell me approximately how much lime juice your one lime yields… we don’t get very good limes here in Canada! Thanks!

  18. Admin March 17, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Impulsively – Using a citrus press, I usually get about 1/4 cup out of a lime.

  19. impulsively March 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Thanks. This sauce was awesome with your pork skewers… I have tons of it left though – don’t want to throw it out (too tasty) but not sure what else I can eat it with? Would appreciate some suggestions, thanks!

  20. Admin March 23, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    impulsively – Any grilled, steamed, or fried meat goes well with this.
    Grilled pork neck
    Fried sun-dried beef
    Grilled chicken
    Fried sun-dried fish

  21. Ken May 31, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Wow! We love dipping sauces, and anything to go with grilled chicken sounds great. Pinned it. Ken

  22. Craig Cruden June 3, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Thanks, I actually remembered you had a recipe for it….. I had bought chicken streetside and they were out of this one so I made yours — it was not the same but I think I made errors when dividing it into 4ths – probably with the toasted rice flour (still good). I will probably have another go at it and do a comparison. I actually find that there are around 4 fairly destinct variations on my little soi.

    I was going to rass you on your juice of one lime but before I did I actually did a taste comparison between thai limes and the larger ones (probably same as American Limes)…. and boy was there a difference between the two. I usually buy my thai limes at the market but I bought them at the overpriced Villa Mart/Market…. and when I looked at the price they had larger ones that were actually cheaper than the normal thai limes….. so I figured I would buy the larger ones because of the price vs juice advantage. I later bought the normal ones from my local veggie street vendor. The smaller thai limes are definitely packed with more flavour…. the larger ones were more watery and had a weaker flavour. My guess is the key limes in the United States would be closer to Thai limes – but I don’t have them around to do a taste comparison.

  23. Al July 7, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    The turmeric chicken is marinating in the fridge, the
    dried chili dipping sauce is made and man it’s good!
    It’s noon on Sunday and time for a nap. I know what
    I’ll be dreaming about.


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