DOUBLE DOWN A combination of roasting and charring gives this tomato dipping sauce, or jeow, remarkable depth of flavor.



Photo:

Jenny Huang for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Tyna Hoang, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka

The Chef: Donny Sirisavath



Illustration:

Michael Hoeweler

The Restaurants: Khao Noodle Shop in Dallas

What They’re Known For: Thai and Lao street food and noodle dishes inspired by the foods he grew up on. Spinning a buzzy series of pop-up dinners into an award-winning restaurant.

THIS DIPPING SAUCE is a particular favorite of chef Donny Sirisavath’s. Known as jeow mak len in Lao cuisine, it takes advantage of late-season tomatoes, which roast along with garlic, jalapeños, onions and Thai chiles to produce a complex, concentrated flavor. A brief char under the broiler lends a hint of smoke. Coarsely mashed, the result is a lush, flavorful sauce.

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In Mr. Sirisavath’s second Slow Food Fast recipe, the jeow serves as the centerpiece on a colorful platter of fennel, carrots, cucumbers and radicchio, crisp and ready for dipping. Mr. Sirisavath recommends rounding out the spread with sticky or jasmine rice.

“You need to roast everything so the vegetables soften evenly,” he said. “When you’re done, the garlic should collapse when squeezed.” Getting the garlic right is key. It flavors and thickens the sauce, balancing the tomatoes’ acid, boosting the overall umami.

While it’s fine to use a food processor to purée the other vegetables, smash the tomatoes by hand for an appropriately chunky texture. And you’d be wise to make a double batch. “I put it on everything,” Mr. Sirisavath said. “It’s always in my fridge for a quick meal.”

Jenny Huang for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Tyna Hoang, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka

Ingredients

  • Vegetable or other neutral oil, for greasing
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 large shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño, halved
  • 3 Thai chiles
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 3 ½ tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1 head fennel, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and blanched
  • 4 cucumbers, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 head radicchio, leaves separated
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine or sticky rice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a sheet pan and spread onions, shallots, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño and Thai chiles across it. Transfer pan to oven and roast vegetables, turning them at least once for even cooking, until they soften, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Set broiler to high. Set roasted vegetables under broiler and broil until blackened in spots, about 3 minutes. Transfer all vegetables except tomatoes to a food processor. Add fish sauce and pulse until ingredients are uniform and finely chopped.
  3. Transfer pureed vegetables to a mixing bowl and add tomatoes. Use a masher to coarsely smash tomatoes. Fold in scallions and cilantro. Season with fish sauce to taste.
  4. Transfer dipping sauce to a bowl and set bowl in center of a platter. Arrange fennel, carrots, cucumbers and radicchio around bowl. Serve platter with warm jasmine or sticky rice on the side.

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