Kris Yenbamroong's 6 Essential Thai Condiments
"Our food is VERY SPICY," reads a warning at the top of Food & Wine Best New Chef Kris Yenbamroong's menu. Yenbamroong, who grew up in the traditional-style Thai restuarant his parents owned in LA, now brings his own bold, street-style versions of authentic Thai dishes to the city with his own restuarants, Night + Market and Night + Market Song. The warning is real: Some of the dishes are potent, topped with traditional Thai condiments like jaew, a northeastern Thai chile dip, or even something called "water bug relish." If you can't get to LA to try Yenbamroong's food for yourself, stock your pantry with his six must-have Thai condiments and use them to amp up your food—extreme heat optional.
Nam Jim Seafood
"This translates to 'dip for seafood' but is really useful for dipping just about anything. You make it by pounding garlic, bird's eye chili and salt in a mortar (use a food processor if you don't have a mortar and pestle), melting some coconut sugar into fish sauce and combining those with some fresh-squeezed lime juice. Taste and adjust. It should be sweet and sour, zesty and hot."
"I'm not a stickler when it comes to this awesome sauce. I'll gladly use either the original Thai-made one or the Huy Fong rooster sauce that's made in the USA. This is what you should be serving alongside your Thai omelette over steamed rice."
"This is a coarser chile sauce that's a little tangy. It's the classic condiment for Kuay Tiew Khua Gai, wok-fried chicken noodles. I like using this to perk up noodle dishes that are not very assertively-seasoned."
Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce
"This is a great Thai-Chinese style light soy sauce that's a little less salty with a rounder, more complex flavor. It's great for stir-frying."
"Maggi sauce is a saltier, richer soy sauce that's great for spritzing on fried eggs or a soft-boiled egg for a classic Thai breakfast."
"Jaew is the classic Isaan multi-purpose condiment. It's something you can whip up with pantry ingredients, assuming your pantry includes fish sauce, roasted chile powder and white sugar. Squeeze some lime into it, top with raw shallots, and what you've got is pretty much the perfect dip for grilled steak or that leftover roast chicken from a few nights ago."