Thai sweet&sour chilli sauce (Nam jim priu wan)

Sweet and sour chili sauce is unmistakably intertwined with the Asian cuisine and is at least as popular all over the world, as it is in Asia. The sauce is used in a number of different ways and there are hundreds of different recipes out there. Very basically there are two different sweet and sour sauces: one used in cooking (like for wok, or as chicken rub) and one used as a dipping-sauce.

I made this last version - a sweet and sour, spicy dipping sauce. I love this with spring rolls or fried chicken, but you can use this like anyone would use mayonnaise or ketchup. I've seen my mom dip it into the strangest things. Like, really, THE strangest things. (not kidding!)

And now after a big family bbq I've got half the family requesting the sauce. It's like everyone's favourite sauce. Perhaps it's time I start making these in bulk, rather than a new bottle every single week. Honestly, I think I should start a factory...

This specific sweet and sour (and spicy!) sauce is from Thailand. Oh, how I love Thailand. I've lived there for so many years and have so many fond memories of the place. Unfortunately, there aren't many memories of the food. I was always the one eating and was rarely involved in the 'making of'. Plus, I was very young and actually only really developed my love for cooking when the family started cooking soup and spiced cake every single weekend. So I just don't remember. Still, there are some things so typical, so daily Thai life, that they stayed with me. Like, Khao Phad (Thai fried rice), Tod Mun Pla (Thai fish cakes), Phat Thai (Thai noodle dish), tuna sandwiches (don't ask) and this sweet and sour chili sauce.

Nam jim priu wan (Thai sweet & sour chili sauce - ซอสพริกหวาน เปรี้ยว)
1 bottle - from 'Thailand' (an old book)

1 (sweet) red bell pepper
4 Thai chilli peppers *
2-4 garlic 
500 ml water
10 tablespoons rice vinegar **
20 tablespoons (palm) sugar

1. Remove the seeds from the peppers (you can put these aside and add them again at step 4 for extra flavour and texture. I tend to omit them though.). Put the peppers and the garlic into a blender and blend until smooth. Add some of the water if needed.
2. Put the 'paste' into a pan - I prefer a large frying pan as the boiling down will go faster.
3. Add the water, vinegar and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Once its boiling, reduce to a simmer.
4. Leave to simmer for roughly 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. (Check with a cold spoon to see if it's the desired thickness.)
5. Pour into sterile glass jars and store in the fridge once cool.

* My sister loves the extra spice of jalapeño peppers, but long, thin Thai peppers are really the best.
** Any vinegar works here, but try to go for a softer or sweeter kind.

I'm absolutely loving this recipe for the feeling it gives. Any sweet & sour sauce you by in the stores is different. Like, so so so much different from actual Thai sweet & sour chili sauce it's unbelievable. I've been to a Thai restaurant (as well as a few Chinese restaurants) in Holland and even though the flavours are recognizable, the taste, the way of serving and the atmosphere are so much different from a Thai restaurant in Thailand.
3 different experiments, varying the chilis and thickness
I suppose food will always taste different in their country of origin compared to other countries. I remember my sister showing a picture of frikandel -a famous Dutch fast food- she bought in Barcelona. It was served 'en haut cuisine' with so much sauces and extra's all over the place, it was barely recognizable. Anyone had similar experiences? Finding 'your food' in a different country so extremely different from what you know it should be like?

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that this recipe is the closest I've gotten to the real thing. No Westernized version, but roughly 80% authentic (the other 20% being my garden-grown chillies and occasional substitution of sugar). I'm also missing the Tod Mun Pla to go with it.

I really hope you get to try this recipe of Thai sweet and sour chili sauce! And that you'll love it obviously. And also that you'll have a exceptionally lovely week with extremely amazing weather and especially pleasant surprises and exceedingly vast amounts of happiness all over the place... Or at least just a good weekend?