© Aaron Caley. Used with kind permission

Jim jum is one of the wonderful Thai street sit down foods. Its origins are Lao or Khmer. It's variable and you probably wouldn't get two identical tasting jim jums even from the same restaurant within a very short space of time. 

Jim jum is  an earthenware pot on a brazier at table top. The pot is filled with broth and to this you add various supplied vegetables and herbs. This is one reason why the flavour changes. The herbs are often pulled from trees the selection criteria being as broad as bitterness to health aspects. Some dishes place a flower in the pot which is a unique bitterness.

The stock is often a chicken stock supplemented with red onions and black pepper and garlic. Other stocks may be used including pork and mushroom. When preparing the cooking pot  shallots, galangal, Thai basil, fresh mint, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai red chilies and lime juice are all added and brought to the boil.

Diners first add other vegetables, greens and things like mushroom (dry & fresh), shaved slices of meat which are selected on ordering, sometimes various organ cuts and chicken giblets. Fish and other seafood. Vermicelli is a fairly standard addition to the pot. The meat and the noodles will cook within a minute and fished out with chopsticks from the pot. Various sauces of varying spiciness and mixed bitter herbs with chillie plus plain sauces such as ketchup maybe available. The meat is seasoned with a sauce or two and enjoyed then and there. Then it's time for another round. This continues until people have had their fill of meat/fish/noodles. All the while topping up the broth as required. At the end of a session and in fact during, the broth acquires all the best flavours of the cooked and cooking ingredients. To enjoy the broth is an important highlight of this special meal and people really relish the soup. 

The recipe is vague as I mentioned because of the variability of ingredients. It is however worthwhile trying with familiar ingredients at home and seeing what works.

Meat slices are very thin and maybe prepared by your local butcher or shashimi maker. Thin slices can be facilitated by placing your meat in the freezer say for 30 minutes. this will firm up the meat noticeably and allows cutting thin slices easily. Sauces are available in Asian groceries or blend standard chillie sauces with a thick soy, ketchup and fermented thick yellow soybean sauce. Mixed plum sauce and chillie sauce work well.

Nam Jim (Dipping Sauce)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 Coriander roots
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 long Red chilli's deseeded and chopped
  • 2 long green chilli's deseeded and chopped
  • 2 short Thai green chilli's
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar syrup
  • 40 ml Fish sauce
  • 80 ml fresh Limes
  • 6 red shallots thinly sliced

  1. To make the nam jim, pound the garlic, coriander roots and sea salt in a mortar and pestle . Don’t reduce to a paste.
  2. Add the chillies and crush lightly.
  3. Mix in the palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and shallots.
  4. The longer the nam jim sits, the more intense the flavour will be. Best prepared 1 hour prior to using.

This dish is really to enjoy. The heat bed is generally charcoal.