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  • Writer's pictureMolly

A Thai dipping sauce to elevate turkey leftovers!

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

The other day I was chatting with a friend from culinary school about how Thanksgiving went this year and how much I'd like to cook my own Thanksgiving meal next year. I've never been responsible for anything other than the mashed potatoes and I'd really like put my own spin on a Thanksgiving meal. We talked about how fun it would be to put a Thai spin on it, and of course being Thai himself, my friend had some great ideas for a Thai Thanksgiving. One idea was perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers and I'm embarrassed that I hadn't thought of it myself! "Remember that spicy dipping sauce from Isaan that you liked so much in class," he asked. "Why don't you make that to have with your leftover turkey?" Well, duh!

When I was introduced to this dipping sauce in class, I thought it was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. Immediately I knew I needed to keep the recipe in my back pocket, to knock the socks off the hosts of every BBQ I'm invited to from now until the end of days.

The sauce is sour (I love sour!) from tamarind and lime juice, it's spicy from chili flakes and nutty sauce from the roasted sticky rice. Traditionally it's served with Thai style grilled meat and sticky rice. It pairs really beautifully with grilled meat because the lime and tamarind acid cuts through the oiliness of the meat and the toasted rice in the sauce elevates the smokey aroma from the grill. It's just a match made in heaven! And since all you need is rice and a dipping sauce to make this a full meal, it's a quick way to make your leftover turkey taste completely different!

This sauce comes from the Isaan (or Isarn) region of Thailand which is the North Eastern region that boarders Laos. Foods in this region are very sour and spicy, and roasted sticky rice is a staple of the cuisine. Roasted rice is used to impart a smoky aroma to foods, provide textural interest (crunch!) and thickens soups and sauces. To learn more about Isaan cuisine, check out Chef McDang's Youtube series, Eating Thailand.

isarn style bbq dipping sauce

Isaan Spicy Dipping Sauce and Sticky Rice Recipe

Serves 2-3 generously

Isaan Spicy Dipping Sauce Ingredients

3 T fish sauce

3 T tamarind juice (tamarind paste + water)

3 T palm sugar (or brown sugar)

2 T water

2 T fresh lime juice

1 T ground roasted rice (recipe below)

1 t chili flakes (or to your taste)

3 T thinly sliced shallot

1 T thinly sliced spring onion

2 T cilantro or sawtooth coriander

Ground Toasted Rice Ingredients

3 T uncooked sticky rice

Optional Thai sturdy herbs 1 kaffir lime leaf, 1T lemongrass sliced very thin, 1T galangal sliced very thinly

Dipping Sauce Method:

ground roasted sticky rice

To make the ground roasted rice, put your uncooked sticky rice in a dry pan and turn the head to medium. Toast the rice on medium until you reach a golden yellow color, stirring often to avoid burning.

If you have lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves on hand, you c