Nam jim is a flavour-packed, herbaceous sauce from Thailand. Its spicy freshness makes it a great accompaniment for BBQ butterflied chicken.
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It’s true what they say: nothing beats homemade, which is why we’re giving you the only nam jim sauce recipe you’ll ever need. This popular Thai sauce adds a tangy, spicy fresh flavour to a whole chicken cooked low and slow on the BBQ. Read on for all the hints and tips to whip up this tasty BBQ main.
A nam jim sauce is a classic Thai dipping sauce. You’ll find numerous variations on the recipe throughout Thailand (and numerous spellings), but the common denominator is the perfectly balanced combo of salty, spicy, sweet and sour. The beautiful green nam jim colour comes from the green chillies and all those beautiful herbs. It’s tangy and sweet and hot all at the same time, and has the ability to elevate a simple BBQ chicken into something spectacular.
A food processor is your best friend when making nam jim sauce because it will quickly blitz all your nam jim sauce ingredients into a paste. Don’t have a food processor? No problem! Simply put all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle and pound away. Just a note on the chillies here – there are quite a few in this recipe. To get that perfect balance of flavours, we haven’t deseeded ours, but if you prefer milder heat, feel free to remove the chilli seeds. (Make sure you don’t touch your face – especially your eyes – after handling chillies – that will literally end in tears!)
This recipe calls for a whole butterflied chicken. You can buy chicken already butterflied, but these will generally have a marinade on them and we want to make our own. So, here’s how it’s done: Place the chicken breast-side down on a clean work surface and cut along either side of the back bone. Kitchen scissors are really the best tool for the job, but you can also use your sharpest knife. Now flip the chicken over so it’s breast-side up, and press down firmly with the heel of your hand. This flattens the chicken, ready for the barbie. Not sure why you have to butterfly the chicken? Flattening it out helps the chicken cook evenly and quickly. It also gives you more surface area for the nam jim dressing. Make sure your chicken is well coated in half the sauce.
Here’s where you let your BBQ do all the work. Set it up for indirect cooking and preheat the barbie on high. This just means lighting the burner on one side of the BBQ but placing the food on the opposite side over the burners that are off. Place the marinated chicken in a disposable foil tray (trust us, this makes clean-up so much easier), turn the heat down to medium and cook the chicken, with the lid closed, for 2 hours. Now this is important – remember to baste the butterflied chicken with the juices in the tray every 30 minutes. This keeps the meat moist and adds layers of flavour.
Want to try more spicy Thai-inspired recipes? Start with this Thai beef and zoodle salad, then for another BBQ show stopper have a go at this Thai-style BBQ chicken, which is cooked on a beer can. For more ideas and inspiration, check out our collection of Thai recipes.