What is Sweet Chilli Sauce?

Originally from Thailand, sweet chilli sauce is also known as nam chim kai literally meaning "dipping sauce for chicken", but is more popularly known around the world as Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce! Simultaneously sweet, savoury, tangy and spicy, this sauce incorporates red chilies, garlic, ginger, sugar and vinegar and is a popular chilli sauce condiment in Thai, Afghan, Malaysian, and Western cuisines.

We see tons of products along the snack aisle with sweet chilli flavour (like our Sweet Chilli Nut Mix) but how is it used in cuisines of South East Asia?






Picture from healthynibblesandbits.com

In South East Asia, it is widely used as a dipping sauce for Asian spring rolls, barbecued meat, fish or added to various meat and vegetable dishes to add flavour. While there are variations of "sweet chilli" around the world, the one that is commonly consumed in the South East Asia region is made with fish sauce, giving it a distinctive umami and earthy flavour. But included in almost every version of sweet chilli sauce are spices or aromatics such as ginger and spring onions are added with garlic being a staple ingredient.


Here's a quick recipe for a homemade, vegetarian-friendly sweet chilli sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (170g) honey
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 minced garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps: Mix everything together and store in a jar for up to 3 weeks.

Adapted from https://healthynibblesandbits.com/honey-chili-sauce/

Fun fact: Sweet chilli sauce is a good source of antioxidants, manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C!