The first time I had this Thai sauce was a couple of years ago at Kris Yenbamroong’s Night + Market in Los Angeles. I couldn’t decipher exactly what he and his Thai cooks did to pull the inky, spicy, savory, tangy, nutty, pungent sauce together. It was full of textures with flecks of red and nubby bits. We were smitten.
Like a lot of the food on the menu at Night + Market, the dipping sauce broadened our understanding of what Thai food is. The jaew sauce was paired with grilled pork collar – I know it sounds weird but believe me, it was wonderful, uncommon Thai cooking in America. Gutsy sauce with fatty meat. Few things are better.
When I spotted the jaew as an accompaniment to Thai-style pork ribs in Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok cookbook, I had to make it. As I mentioned earlier, I nearly took some shortcuts but then decided to follow his directions. Major payoff. This is one of the most interesting Asian dipping sauces around and I urge you to try it out, explore different renditions.