Thai-inspired tamarind nam jim with a whole lot of tangy flavours and a kick of spice to add oomph to any fresh crunchy salad or grilled meats.
What is Nam Jim?
Nam jim, or you might read it as nam chim, translates to dipping sauce in Thai. The classic nam jim starts with fish sauce, garlic, sugar, lime juice and chillis. From there, you can build your own variation. The aim is to have a perfect balance of salty, sweet, spicy and sour.
Popular Variations of Nam Jim
Nam Jim Kai: The classic Thai sweet chilli sauce is possibly one the of most popular Thai exports. For this nam jim, the sauce is cooked over heat to create a thicker consistency. Nam jim kai has higher sugar content, added rice vinegar and use of chilli flakes. Great for grilled chicken.
Nam Jim Sate: This is the Thai version of peanut sauce and often served with Thai satays. The base starts the same, but you add peanut butter, shrimp paste and little coconut milk. Nam chim sate will have a thicker consistency than nam jim.
Nam Jim Jaew: Originating from Northern Thailand, nam jim jaew incorporates grounded toasted sticky rice to the standard nam jim base. This creates a more nutty and earthy flavour to the nam jim sauce and added texture. Often served with grilled pork but works well with other grilled meats too.
My nam jim recipe resembles the closest to nam jim thale, which the basic nam jim sauce. I added tamarind puree for extra tang and fruity flavour. And with a little extra finely chopped coriander roots, it adds freshness and aroma to the overall dressing.
Tamarind nam jim dressing will go well with other cabbage coleslaw or salads with fresh herbs. You can also try with grilled meat or fish.
As with most salad dressings, you can adjust the flavours according to your taste. If you prefer more pungent flavours, add a little more fish sauce. For more acidity, adjust the lemon juice and for extra heat, add more chillis.
Coriander: I love the fresh aromatic flavours of using coriander root and the stems. Finely chopped so you can release the full flavours.
Chilli: For this recipe, you can adjust the heat depending on how hot you prefer.
Brown sugar: I always prefer brown or palm sugar in my Thai inspired dressings. It is because it adds a caramel flavour and is perfect to balance the pungent fish sauce.
Water: To help dissolve the brown sugar.
Fish sauce: Quintessential to Thai cooking, fish sauce is the main condiment used in many Thai dishes and, of course, the savoury base for nam jim. Depending on the brand you use, some can be quite salty. Always taste before adding more fish sauce to your cooking.
Lemon juice: For the acidity in this nam jim dressing, I used fresh lemon juice. You can, of course, substitute with lime juice.
Tamarind puree: Tamarind paste is compressed dried tamarind pods with pulp and seeds. It has a thick consistency and needs to be soaked before using. Whilst tamarind puree is more of a liquid form and less concentrated than pulp.
The texture of tamarind puree is more like a dipping sauce. It is easier to use puree for this dressing as you don’t need to soak it.
Tamarind puree in this nam jim recipe adds not only sweet tanginess but also delicious fruity flavours.
Wash coriander stems well and then finely chop.
Take a few strips of sliced red chilli and finely chop. If you prefer more spice, you can use bird’s eye chilli rather than long chillies in the dressing. This will give the tamarind nam jim a real kick.
In a small bowl, mix warm water and brown sugar until dissolved.
Add fish sauce, lemon juice and tamarind puree into the bowl and stir until combined.
Add chopped coriander stems and chilli. Mix well.
Best Salad For This Dressing
Light and fresh Chinese cabbage salad tossed together with a spicy tamarind nam jim dressing and crunchy chilli peanuts, this is a super easy Asian slaw you need to try.
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Tamarind Nam Jim Dressing
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- Wash coriander stems well and then finely chop.
- Take a few strips of sliced red chilli and finely chop. If you prefer more spice, you can use bird’s eye chilli rather than long chillies in the dressing. This will give the tamarind nam jim a real kick.
- In a small bowl, mix warm water and brown sugar until dissolved.
- Add fish sauce, lemon juice and tamarind puree into the bowl and stir until combined.
- Add chopped coriander stems and chilli. Mix well.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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