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Nam Jim: Zesty Thai-style dip to spice up your seafood

Hedy Khoo on 10 Jan 2019

The Straits Times


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SINGAPORE - If you love dipping sauces, this is one that could capture your heart.


Generally called nam jim, which means dipping sauce in Thai, this particular version is meant to complement seafood.


Thai food purists may hurl stones at me, but I have no qualms eating this with dishes other than seafood.


This dip excites the palate with explosive flavours. It is sweet, tangy, savoury and spicy all at once. I especially love it with steamed cockles.


It was a Thai food-loving friend who inspired me to make this sauce after talking about it incessantly. I am happy to report that my version passed this finicky foodie's standards.


He shared a tip with me, one that those familiar with making fresh sambal belacan should know - the ingredients should be thoroughly dry.


This helps keep the dipping sauce safe for consumption for at least a week, if you store it properly in the fridge.


Instead of taking the convenient approach of throwing everything in the blender, I have come up with my own sequence of grinding and blending the ingredients so that the final sauce is as much about texture as it is about flavour.


The wonderful thing about making this dipping sauce on your own is that you can adjust the amounts of ingredients to suit your preference.


A word of caution though. This sauce is awfully addictive and can set off a crazy craving for Thai food.





  • 200g green finger chilli, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 150g red chilli padi
  • 200g shallot
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Thai palm sugar
  • 120ml fish sauce
  • 100ml lime juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 100g fresh coriander (leaves and stems), roots removed, cut into 3cm lengths




1. Place the green finger chilli into a grinder and grind into a paste.


2. Transfer the green chilli paste into a food processor, add in the red chilli padi and blend into a paste.


3. Add the shallot, garlic, Thai palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and blend until the shallot and garlic are finely chopped.


4. Season with the salt and blend for 10 seconds. Add in the coriander and blend for 10 seconds until the coriander is well-chopped.


5. Store in an air-tight glass jar and keep refrigerated.


Makes two medium-sized jars and one small-sized jar.





  • 500g raw cockles on half shell




1. Place the cockles on a heat-proof dish.


2. Steam for one minute.


3. Transfer cockles to clean serving dish, discarding the residual liquid from steaming. 


4. Serve with nam jim on the side.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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