This jeow, which is eaten as a condiment for steamed or simmered vegetables, is claimed as both a Lao and a northern Thai dish. It is also prepared in northeastern Thailand as a local recipe. The Luang Namtha version uses the local kao soi fermented bean sauce, whereas the southern versions utilize shrimp paste and lemongrass. Its popularity is no doubt due to easy preparation from readily available ingredients. The jeow compliments greens superbly and tastes great!
1 small head garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 T vegetable oil
1 T fermented chilli soybean paste (see Ingredients section for substitutes)
1 C (225g/8 oz) pork, minced (optional)
½ t sugar
1 T thin soy sauce
Chilli powder to taste (optional)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Water or stock to adjust mixture to a thick salsa consistency
1 small bunch spring onions (scallions), greens only, chopped finely
1 T coriander (cilantro), chopped finely (optional)
1 bunch Chinese flowering cabbage (and slices of pumpkin and gourd [optional])
Water to cook vegetable accompaniments
- Heat the oil in a hot wok. Toss in the chopped garlic and stir fry briefly. Remove the garlic if it is browning too fast. Add the fermented soybean paste to the oil and fry, squishing the paste down so it cooks, but does not burn or stick. Add the minced pork or tofu as well as the garlic if it has been set aside. Add the sugar, soy sauce and tomato. Flavour with chilli powder if desired.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat and tomatoes are cooked and integrated with the other ingredients into a rich, chunky sauce. Add water or stock to thin if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- When finished, stir in the onion greens and coriander. Transfer to a serving dish such as a Chinese rice bowl.
- Steam or simmer the greens for 5 minutes until they turn vivid green, but remain crisp.
To eat, take a long stalk of green and bend it over repeatedly until it is the length of a little finger, wrapping any floppy bits around the middle to form a bundle. Use this to scoop some of the sauce to the side of the serving bowl and eat in one mouthful.
- The finished jeow is superb tossed through pasta. It’s worth making for that alone.
- Use a thick version of this jeow to make Sloppy Joes. Lightly grill a baguette, slit it and add the jeow. Add lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
- For a delicious pasta sauce, stop cooking while the tomatoes are still chunky, before they cook down. This variation is a bit of serendipity discovered when making the sauce in bulk. The bottled gas ran out before the tomatoes could cook as long as intended. A new sauce was born.
- Substitute tofu for the pork.