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Jeow Het Recipe (Lao Mushroom Dipping Sauce)

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This jeow het recipe is a spicy Lao mushroom dipping sauce that’s super delicious with Thai sticky rice and fresh vegetables. It’s so easy to make, tastes amazing, and it’s the perfect side dish to any Thai meal.

Jeow het, a Lao mushroom dipping sauce, with fresh vegetables and mackerel fish.

Lao cuisine is known for its many versatile dipping sauces like jeow mak keua (eggplant dip) and jeow mak len (tomato dipping sauce).

This mushroom sauce is another favorite that’s perfect for gatherings. It gets a delicious smoky flavor from grilling the garlic and chilies, just like in nam prik noom.

What is jeow het

Jeow het is a traditional Lao dipping sauce with a base of mushrooms, chilies, garlic, and herbs. It’s a spicy and rich savory sauce that’s typically served with accompaniments like sticky rice and fresh vegetables.


In Lao and Isan language, jeow means sauce and het is mushroom.

There are many different jeows, as it is the name for all kinds of Lao relishes and dipping sauces. One of my favorites is jeow som, a tangy sauce, with a side of moo yang.

Lao dipping sauce

One of the best things about Thai cuisine is the many options of dipping sauces. While Northern Thailand loves nam prik ong, in Northeast Thailand, we have nam prik kapi.

Laos, our neighboring country, shares that deep love for delicious dips. This jeow het is defintely one of the best Lao sauces I’ve tried so far. If you love mushrooms and chilies as much as I do, this sauce will definitely become a staple.

It’s the perfect blend of spicy and savory, and it goes well with everything from sticky rice to fish and meats.

Mekong River, the bridge between Thailand and Laos.
Mekong River in Mukdahan, a connection between Thailand and Laos.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know Laos and Northeastern Thailand (Isan) are closely connected. Thanks to several bridges linking them, our kitchens and flavors are incredibly similar.

Both Laos and Isan cuisine are known for their bold flavors, often using lots of fermented fish sauce. Popular local dishes like Lao papaya salad and som tam pla ra rely on fermented fish sauce for that umami-rich taste.

For this jeow het recipe, you’ll need fermented fish sauce and MSG to really bring out the best flavors of this dip. You can find both at Asian grocery stores or markets.

By the way, if you ever get the chance to travel to Laos, don’t miss it! It’s not overrun by tourists, and the food is delicious, plus the people are incredibly friendly.

Asian mushroom dipping sauce

It’s been super hot in Thailand lately, reaching 40°C, which made it the perfect time to enjoy some spicy mushroom dipping sauce.

I paired it with fried mackerel, boiled eggs, sticky rice, and a refreshing mango bubble tea. My husband enjoyed his staple street food dish, pad kra pao, with an occasional bite of sticky rice dipped into jeow het sauce.

Lao jeow het, mushroom dipping sauce, with vegetables, mackerel fish, and a basket of sticky rice.

The best thing about this mushroom sauce is how easy it is. Any home cook can make it! Plus, it’s full of traditional Asian flavors. Just follow the easy instructions, and you’ll have an authentic Lao sauce ready in no time.

The most important thing is to grill the mushrooms, chilies, shallots, and garlic first. This step adds a smoky flavor that’s just amazing. Then, just crush everything in a mortar and pestle, and you’re done!

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for jeow het recipe: coriander, green onions, MSG, garlic, shallots, chilies, mushrooms, and fermented fish sauce.
  • Mushrooms – I used straw mushrooms, but you can use any type of Asian mushroom.
  • Shallots – Grilled shallots add a natural sweet flavor and delicious aroma.
  • Chilies – Add more or less chilies to taste – Lao sauces are typically spicy!
  • Garlic – Roasted garlic adds a delicious pungent note to the sauce.
  • Coriander, green onions – A sprinkle of coriander and freshly chopped green onions add a citrusy note and crisp texture.
  • Fermented fish sauce – This is the key ingredient for getting that authentic Lao umami flavor, adding a savory and pungent note that’s irreplaceable.
  • MSG – MSG is a flavor enhancer that’s popular in Asian cuisine, don’t skip it in this recipe!

How to make Lao mushroom dipping sauce

Charred chilies, mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in a grilling pan.

Step 1: Grill the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and chilies. You can do this over charcoal or in a pan on low heat. Wait until they get a nice, charred look. You can put them on skewers first but using tongs works great too.

Crushed garlic and chilies, and other spices, in a clay mortar.

Step 2: Use a clay mortar and pestle to crush the garlic, chilies, and shallots together.

Jeow het being prepared in a clay mortar.

Step 3: Add the grilled mushrooms, MSG, and fermented fish sauce. Pound until everything is well mixed.

Jeow het ready in a clay mortar.

Step 4: Stir in the coriander and green onions gently. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Kitchenware

  • Thai mortar and pestle (You could use a food processor, but in my opinion you really need that texture of the pounded ingredients to enjoy the mushroom dip to the fullest.)
  • Tongs for flipping (or use bamboo skewers)
  • Charcoal grill or grilling pan

How to eat jeow het

Jeow het is so versatile, and it pairs amazing with lots of dishes. Here’s how you can enjoy it:

Fresh vegetables: Add a side of Thai eggplants, crisp cucumber slices, carrot sticks, yard long beans, and maybe even some steamed veggies.

Thai sticky rice: If you don’t have sticky rice, you can use jasmine rice.

Grilled meats: Grilled pork and Thai chicken wings are two of my favorites. A side of shrimp satay or grilled squid is perfect for seafood lovers.

Eggs: Cut boiled eggs in half and serve them alongside your sauce. Alternatively, you can try pork omelette and cha-om omelette.

Fish: Some mushroom dip on top of Thai grilled fish? Yes please! Also try fried mackerel fish, it’s one of my favorites with this kind of dipping sauce.

Serving suggestion

In Thailand and Laos, eating together is about sharing. Put the jeow het in a bowl in the middle of a big plate. Then, surround it with all sorts of sides mentioned earlier. Gather around with your friends and family, and dip your favorite snacks into the sauce!

Storing leftovers and meal prep

Storing: Transfer leftover jeow het into an airtight container. Store the container in the fridge and it can last you for up to 5 days.

Meal prep tips: This sauce is perfect for meal prep and serving at parties. Make a large batch, and you’ll have a versatile sauce for the coming days. Just plan some meals that can be easily paired with jeow het!

Frequently asked questions

Is jeow het spicy?

Yes, jeow het is typically spicy because it’s made with chilies. You can adjust the number of chilies to your taste.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

This recipe can be gluten-free if you make sure the fermented fish sauce is gluten-free.

What is jeow?

Jeow are types of Lao dipping sauces that are often spicy and are typically paired with fresh vegetables, sticky rice, and meat.

Can I use a stone mortar and pestle?

Yes, you can use a stone mortar and pestle; it crushes ingredients for a smoother texture, whereas a clay one gently bruises them for more texture – which is what I prefer.

Authentic Lao dipping sauces

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Jeow Het Recipe (Lao Mushroom Dipping Sauce)

Jeow het, a Lao mushroom dipping sauce, with fresh vegetables and mackerel fish.
This jeow het recipe is an easy Lao mushroom dipping sauce that's perfect for any day of the week. Pair it with fresh vegetables, sticky rice, and meats.
Praew
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cuisine Lao
Course Dipping sauce
Serving Size 6 people

Ingredients

  • 8.8 ounces mushrooms see notes
  • 2.8 ounces shallots
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • chilies add to taste
  • 1 teaspoon MSG
  • 1.5 tablespoon fermented fish sauce
  • 0.35 ounces green onions chopped
  • 0.35 ounces coriander chopped

Instructions

  • Grill the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and chilies. You can do this over charcoal or in a pan on low heat. Wait until they get a nice, charred look. You can put them on skewers first but using tongs works great too.
  • Use a clay mortar and pestle to crush the garlic, chilies, and shallots together.
  • Add the grilled mushrooms, MSG, and fermented fish sauce. Pound until everything is well mixed.
  • Stir in the coriander and green onions gently. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Mushrooms - I used straw mushrooms, but you can use any type of Asian mushroom.
  • Pair jeow het with sticky rice, fresh vegetables, grilled meats, and fish.
  • You can find MSG and fermented fish sauce at Asian grocery stores.

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