*A digital kitchen scale
• A charcoal grill (highly recommended), grates oiled
• 1 or 2 wood skewers (but only if you’re grilling), soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes
• A Thai granite mortar and pestle —JJ Goode
- Makes about 1 cup
fresh green Thai (about 14) or serrano (about 3) chiles
cilantro roots, thinly sliced
peeled garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
lime juice (preferably from Key limes or spiked with a small squeeze of Meyer lemon juice)
Thai fish sauce
coarsely chopped cilantro (thin stems and leaves), lightly packed
In This Recipe
- Cook the chiles, turning them over once or twice, until both sides are completely blistered and almost completely blackened and the flesh is completely cooked, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the chiles. Remove the chiles from the skewers and use your fingers or a small knife to peel them. You don’t have to remove every last bit of skin. In fact, you want to see bits of char in the finished sauce.
- Combine the cilantro roots and salt in a granite mortar and pound to a fairly smooth, slightly fibrous paste, about 30 seconds. Pound in the garlic until it’s fully incorporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chiles and pound them until you have a fairly smooth paste (the seeds will still be visible), about 1 minute more. Scrape the paste into a bowl or other container, then add the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar, and stir well.
- Let the sauce sit for an hour or two before you serve it. It’ll taste even better after it does. Right before you serve it, stir in the cilantro.
I help chefs write cookbooks! I’ve co-authored several, including Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand (Ten Speed) with Andy Ricker, A Girl and Her Pig (Ecco) with April Bloomfield, and Truly Mexican and Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales (Wiley) with Roberto Santibanez.