This famous Thai hot, sour, salty and sweet dressing is beautiful on salads, but great on just about anything — steamed food, stir-fries and seafood. Try opening some mussels or clams, toss with Nam Jim and some fresh herbs, and you will have one of the most spectacular dishes ever. I recommend that you remove the wok from the heat before you fold the sauce through; if you add it while the wok is hot or the other ingredients are boiling, you will destroy the wonderful fresh flavour of the limes.
Make sure you use lime and not lemon juice or it won’t have a strong enough sour taste. Other souring agents commonly used are tamarind or coconut vinegar. I always make this dressing just before I want to use it as the freshness is the most wonderful thing about it.
I like the balance of flavour here to be hot, sour, salty then sweet. As with all these dressings, be careful not to make it too sweet.
Pound the garlic, coriander roots and salt in a mortar with a pestle until crushed but not reduced to a paste. Add the chillies and crush lightly (the degree to which you crush the chillies dictates the heat of the sauce, so be careful). Mix in the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and shallots.
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