Hed Chef

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

Nam jim is a spicy and zesty Thai-style dipping sauce that excites the palate. PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
Steamed cockles with nam jim. PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

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.

Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo

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