Thai Salad Dressing – Recipe Nam Jim

A simple and wonderfully addictive salad dressing that is fantastic with freshly cooked seafood and grilled beef. An absolute must have for any Thai kitchen where a salad is offered as part of a shared meal.
There are a number of variations for Nam Jim, but the key elements of hot, sour, salty and sweet always remain. This is a great way of learning about balance of flavor in Thai cooking because all of the key ingredients are here, chili, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Add and subtract as much as you like, you may favor less chili heat or garlic, and the chilies that you are using may be hotter or milder so adjust accordingly.

Finally, a word on fish sauce; do not be put off by the pungent aroma, once incorporated into a dressing or curry it becomes quite addictive and is a healthy alternative to salt.
Fish sauce is made from fermented anchovies or prawns, Vietnamese fish sauce is considered the best although the widely available squid brand from Thailand is perfectly acceptable. Once opened always keep fish sauce refrigerated.


  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 2-3 red shallots or half a small red onion chopped
  • 3-4 bird’s eye chillies (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves or 1 fresh root
  • Pinch of salt

In a large pestle and mortar, crush the garlic with the salt, add the coriander and chillies and roughly pound. Stir in the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and finely chopped shallots.

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