[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This Thai-inspired dried chili—vinegar dipping sauce is a close relative of Thai jaew. But instead of using fresh lime juice, which begins to deteriorate in quality and flavor the longer it sits, this sauce gets its acidic bite from distilled white vinegar, which gives it a much longer shelf life. This allows you to make the sauce ahead of time, and also means you can hold onto any that’s left over. Fish sauce provides salinity and umami, ground dried chilies bring the heat, and toasted-rice powder lends nuttiness while also thickening the sauce.

Why It Works

  • Using white distilled vinegar instead of fresh lime juice extends the shelf life of the sauce, which allows you to make it in advance.
  • Thai toasted-rice powder thickens the sauce and while also providing toasted, nutty flavor to balance the heat of dried chilies, and the punch of fish sauce and vinegar.
  • Yield:Makes 2 cups (475ml)
  • Active time:5 minutes
  • Total time:5 minutes
  • Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup (120ml) Asian fish sauce
    • 2 tablespoons (30g) sugar
    • 4 medium garlic cloves (20g), minced and pressed into a paste (see note)
    • 16 dried Thai chilies, ground fine (4 teaspoons; 4g)
    • 1 1/2 cups (355ml) distilled white vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons (30g) Thai toasted-rice powder, homemade or store-bought


    1. 1.

      In a medium bowl, combine fish sauce and sugar and whisk to dissolve sugar. Add garlic and ground chilies, and whisk to combine. Add vinegar and whisk to combine.

    2. 2.

      When you are ready to serve, add toasted-rice powder and stir to combine. Serve.

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