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Nam Jim Seafood Recipe (Thai Seafood Dipping Sauce)

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This nam jim seafood recipe makes a spicy, savory, and zesty Thai seafood dipping sauce. It’s easy to make, and you can drizzle it over almost anything – grilled or steamed fish, squid, crab, and even grilled meats.

Nam jim seafood sauce, served with grilled squid.

Just like nam jim jaew and prik nam pla, this Thai seafood sauce is incredibly versatile, and you can have it with anything you like. It’s ready in less than 10 minutes using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

What is nam jim seafood

Nam jim seafood is a spicy Thai dipping sauce for seafood made with green or red chilies. It’s tangy, slightly sweet, and combines garlic, palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce.

Nam jim talay (นำ้จิ้มซีฟู้ด)

In Thailand, this Thai sauce is known as nam jim talay (นำ้จิ้มซีฟู้ด). Nam jim means dipping sauce, and talay is Thai for seafood.

This spicy Thai sauce has many versions. There’s a green and red nam jim seafood, which are each prepared with unique ingredients.

Also, many Thai families have their own recipes passed down through generations, so each chef at a Thai restaurant makes it a bit differently.

Green vs red seafood dipping sauce

Choosing between red and green nam jim seafood sauce, or Thai green chili sauce? Here’s what you need to know:

Red nam jim seafood sauce is prepared with red chilies, which gives it a deep red to almost brown color. It’s rich and spicy, and typically includes roasted peanuts for extra flavor. I think it’s suited for richer seafood like lobster, grilled squid, and crab.

Comparison of red nam jim seafood vs green seafood sauce.
Red nam jim seafood on the left vs green on the right.

Green nam jim seafood sauce is prepared with fresh green chili peppers, mint, coriander, and lots of lime juice. It’s zesty and bright, for many Thai people the favorite dip sauce for lighter seafood like shrimp and steamed fish like pla pao.

Thai seafood sauce recipe

This is the best nam jim seafood recipe you’ll find, it will change the way you enjoy seafood!

In my family, it’s a hit at every family gathering, especially when we have mookata (Thai BBQ). We never use store-bought sauces, since this homemade version is healthier and made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives.

I’ve got some suggestions for pairings coming up later, but basically it goes great with every seafood. Whether it’s mussels, oysters, steamed fish, or lobster, it spices them all perfectly.

And the best part is that it’s so quick and easy to make, so you won’t be spending your complete day in the kitchen. You can make it in advance and keep it in the fridge for several days!

Nam jim seafood dipping sauce with a hand holding grilled squid.

You can also customize this nam jim sauce to your liking with my tips coming up after the instructions. It’s a flexible sauce that can be made spicier or milder, it’s easy to adjust the chili levels to find your perfect balance of flavors.

And that’s what Thai food is all about, customizing the flavors to your taste. Everyone has their own methods and flavor preferences, so my authentic Thai recipes should always be used as a guideline. This recipe is exactly how I enjoy nam jim seafood best.

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 nam jim seafood: roasted peanuts, chilies, garlic, lime, fish sauce, palm sugar, and a mortar and pestle.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar is key for that authentic flavor. It adds a rich, caramel-like flavor that’s distinct from white and brown sugar.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine, popular for its salty and umami flavor. Opt for a high quality brand like red boat fish sauce.
  • Roasted peanuts – The peanuts are roasted before being added to the sauce, which gives the sauce an extra toasty flavor.
  • Chilies – You can use any type of fresh red chili pepper. I typically use Thai bird’s eye chilies or Thai Jinda chilies. You can find these at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves are a key ingredient for making Thai seafood sauce.
  • Lime – Use fresh lime juice, not the bottled stuff. It adds a fresh tangy flavor that balances the sweet and spicy notes.

Short recipe video

How to make nam jim seafood

Mortar and pestle method

Step 1: Pound the garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Continue until you reach a fine paste consistency.

Step 2: Add the roasted peanuts into the paste, crushing them thoroughly with the pestle.

Step 3: Add the palm sugar and fish sauce to the mixture, blending them in until the mixture achieves a sauce-like consistency.

Step 4: Finally, stir in the fresh lime juice, ensuring all the flavors are well combined. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Food processor method

Step 1: Put garlic, chilies, roasted peanuts, palm sugar, and fish sauce into the food processor together. Pulse the mixture until it becomes a sauce with a little texture, not completely smooth.

Kitchen tools

  • Cutting board and a sharp knife for prepping garlic
  • Thai mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender
  • Measuring spoons and cups

Customization options

From my experience working in Thai restaurants, personal taste really matters and everyone likes it a bit different. Here’s how you can customize this seafood sauce to your liking:

Spicier: For extra heat, add more Thai chilies. If you prefer it less spicy, reduce the chilies or opt for milder ones like serrano peppers or jalapeños.

Sweeter: If you’re after more sweetness, add another 1/2 tablespoon of palm sugar.

Saltier: Include a little more fish sauce, about 1/2 teaspoon.

Tangier: Squeeze in some more fresh lime juice to taste.

The important thing is balancing the flavors. Always taste your sauce before serving!

Recipe tips and tricks

Use fresh ingredients: It’s really important to use fresh garlic, lime juice, and chilies.

Use a mortar and pestle: The mortar and pestle helps release the natural oils and flavors of the ingredients. You can use a food processor, but you won’t have that traditional texture and flavor.

Taste and adjust: After each step, you can taste your sauce and fine-tune the balance of flavors.

Serving suggestions

Transfer your finished to a serving bowl or use individual sauce cups. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh coriander and serve with one of these or any seafood of your choice:

Leftover Thai seafood dipping sauce

Storing: Put your leftovers in an airtight container. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Always use a clean spoon to get some sauce out.

Meal prep: Nam jim seafood is perfect for making in advance. Simply make the sauce and store it in your fridge until you’re ready.

Frequently asked questions

What is nam jim?

Nam jim is a collective term for Thai dipping sauces. While nam jim seafood is geared towards seafood, there are also variations for grilled meats, and even for raw vegetables. They all share the balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy Thai flavors.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes it is. But make sure to double-check the labels on your fish sauce.

Can I make this in advance?

Totally. Making it ahead of time will make the flavors even better.

Authentic Thai dipping sauce recipes

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Nam Jim Seafood Recipe (Thai Seafood Dipping Sauce)

Nam jim seafood sauce, served with grilled squid.
This authentic recipe for nam jim seafood makes a delicious Thai seafood dipping sauce under 10 minutes. You can serve it with any type of seafood you like.
Praew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Sauces
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 4 red chilies add to taste
  • 0.9 ounces roasted peanuts
  • 2.5 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 lime

Instructions

  • Pound the garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Continue until you reach a fine paste consistency.
  • Add the roasted peanuts into the paste, crushing them thoroughly with the pestle.
  • Add the palm sugar and fish sauce to the mixture, blending them in until the mixture achieves a sauce-like consistency.
  • Finally, stir in the fresh lime juice, ensuring all the flavors are well combined. Serve immediately and enjoy!

FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD

  • Put garlic, chilies, roasted peanuts, palm sugar, and fish sauce into the food processor together. Pulse the mixture until it becomes a sauce with a little texture, not completely smooth.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • You can use a food processor if you don't have a mortar and pestle.
  • Taste-test and adjust flavors if needed.
  • Serve with seafood, grilled meats, rice, or others.
  • Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was so easy and fresh tasting. I used it with the Fried Squid recipe and everyone loved it. This sauce will liven up fish and chips too!

5 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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