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Jeow Mak Keua Recipe (Lao Eggplant Dip)

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Jeow mak keua recipe, a delicious Lao eggplant dip, is a perfect blend of smoky, spicy, and savory tastes. Pair it with Thai sticky rice, fresh vegetables, or even hard-boiled eggs for a complete Southeast Asian meal.

Lao jeow mak keua eggplant dip in a bowl surrounded by sticky rice, fish, and fresh vegetables.

If you love smoky flavors, you’ll definitely want to check out the Thai counterpart, nam prik noom. This vegan roasted chili dip offers an easy blend of roasted chilies, garlic, salt, and shallots.

What is jeow mak keua

Jeow mak keua is a traditional Lao dip made of roasted eggplants, aromatic garlic, and fiery chilies. This versatile staple of Lao cuisine offers a perfect balance of spicy and savory and can be paired with lots of sides from vegetables to fish and more.

Spicy Lao eggplant dip

This smoky and spicy dip is a true gem in Southeast Asian cuisine, bringing Lao families together around the table. Lao roasted dip can transform any meal into a feast.

Close-up of traditional Lao jeow mak keua (Lao eggplant dip) garnished with fresh mint, served alongside sticky rice and fresh vegetables.

Whether you use it as an accompaniment for rice or as a dipping sauce for grilled meats, it’s a condiment that stands out.

The roasted eggplants provide texture and taste, while the chilies add just the right amount of heat.

A spoonful of Lao eggplant dipping sauce held over a clay mortar.

Garlic and fermented fish sauce add pungent, umami flavors, and a hint of toasted rice powder provides a subtle nuttiness and crunch.

Why try this recipe

  • Try cooking with new ingredients. Thai eggplants? Fermented fish sauce? Toasted rice powder? Available at most Asian grocery stores!
  • Perfect for any occasion. You can dish this out at a family dinner or at any gathering. It’s versatile and pairs great with lots of Asian dishes.
  • Explore Lao cuisine. Discover unique flavors with this fresh and exciting dipping sauce. Impress your friends and family with a roasted eggplant dip they’ve never seen before.

Looking for more Asian dipping sauce recipes? Try my Thai sweet chili sauce, the spicy nam jim jaew, or nam prik kapi.

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.


Top-view of recipe ingredients for jeow mak meua on a banana leaf: Thai eggplants, garlic, chilies, shallots, fish sauce, and more.
  • Thai eggplants – A staple in Southeast Asian cooking, bringing a crisp texture and slightly bitter flavor to dishes like jeow mak keua. You can use Japanese eggplants as a substitute.
  • Mint and green onions – Adds a refreshing, cool taste.
  • Shallots – Shallots add a subtle, sweet flavor. They balance the spicy and savory taste and enhance the overall flavor. Red onions can be used as a substitute
  • Chilies – I used Thai Jinda chilies. Feel free to use milder chilies for a mild dipping sauce.
  • Garlic
  • Fermented fish sauce – Brings umami and a touch of saltiness. A key ingredient in Lao and Isan cuisine.
  • Toasted rice powder – Another staple in Lao food, giving dishes a toasty, nutty finish. You can make it from scratch or get it premade at an Asian supermarket.
  • Fish sauce – Adds umami and a salty flavor.
  • MSG – MSG is a flavor enhancer, bringing out the best in the other ingredients and rounding out the flavors.

Cooking instructions

Roast

Pierce the eggplants with a fork several times. For an easy time grilling, you can skewer the ingredients. Then, roast the chilies, Thai eggplants, garlic, and shallots over charcoal, ensuring the skin darkens but do not burn the chilies. Use a grilling pan over low heat or burn over open flame if you don’t have a charcoal grill.

peel

Once roasted, peel off the charred skin from the eggplants, garlic, and shallots.

pound

Jeow mak keua prepared in a clay mortar.

1. In a mortar and pestle, start by pounding the chilies, garlic, and shallots. Once well blended, add in the Thai eggplants and continue to pound into a mix.

2. Mix in the sauces and seasonings: fish sauce, fermented fish sauce, toasted rice powder, and MSG.

3. Stir in the chopped green onions and mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Kitchen tools

  • Charcoal grill or grilling pan
  • Cutting board & chef’s knife
  • Measuring spoons & cups
  • Mortar and pestle (You can use a food processor, but the texture will differ.)
  • Bamboo skewers for skewering the ingredients before charring.

How to serve spicy eggplant dipping sauce

Garnish the dip with additional chopped mint leaves, green onions, or even a sprinkle of toasted rice powder. Transfer to a serving bowl or sauce cup and place the dip in the center of a platter surrounded by other sides like:

  • Fresh vegetables like yard long beans, Thai eggplants, carrots, lettuce
  • Steamed mackerel or other fish
  • Moo yang (Thai grilled pork)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Thai sticky rice

How to store

Transfer the leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerator for up to 3–4 days.

Frequently asked questions

Is this dipping sauce vegetarian?

No, this recipe calls for fish sauce and fermented fish sauce. For a vegetarian version, use vegetarian fish sauce and omit the fermented fish sauce.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, jeow mak keua is gluten-free. Sauces like fish sauce typically don’t contain gluten. However, it’s always important to double-check the labels of your ingredients.

How spicy is this dip?

The spiciness depends on the type and amount of chilies used. You can adjust it to your taste by increasing or decreasing the chilies.

Can jeow mak keua be made ahead of time?

Totally. This dip is perfect for any party, as it stores well in the fridge and can be made in advance.

More Lao recipes you’ll love

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Jeow Mak Keua Recipe (Lao Eggplant Dip)

Lao jeow mak keua served in a bowl with sticky rice, fresh vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and grilled fish, garnished with mint leaves.
This traditional Lao eggplant dip, jeow mak keua, is the perfect blend of spicy and savory flavors.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Lao
Course Dipping sauce
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

  • 8.8 ounces Thai eggplants
  • 1.8 ounce shallots
  • 3 garlic
  • 3 chilies to taste
  • 0.35 ounces mint
  • 0.35 ounces green onions chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fermented fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted rice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG

Instructions

  • Pierce the eggplants with a fork several times. For an easy time grilling, you can skewer the ingredients. Then, roast the chilies, Thai eggplants, garlic, and shallots over charcoal, ensuring the skin darkens but do not burn the chilies. Use a grilling pan over low heat or burn over open flame if you don't have a charcoal grill.
  • Once roasted, peel off the charred skin from the eggplants, garlic, and shallots.
  • In a mortar and pestle, start by pounding the chilies, garlic, and shallots. Once well blended, add in the Thai eggplants and continue to pound into a mix.
  • Mix in the sauces and seasonings: fish sauce, fermented fish sauce, toasted rice powder, and MSG.
  • Stir in the chopped green onions and mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Add chilies to taste. Use Thai chilies for a spicy dip, or a mild type of chilies for a mild dip.
  • You can use a food processor, but the texture will differ.

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