Recipe: Jeow Mak Len, Roasted Tomato Salsa

Recipes by Tina Carroll.

If you know Laotian people, you know that we eat jeow with just about everything. Jeow is a little more than just a condiment, it’s more of a side, dipping sauce or salsa. Probably like the French equivalent of having a sauce or puree. Like the French, many Laotian dishes are pureed. There are not too many proteins in Southeast Asian cuisines and most meals are balances with other foods, like rice, fruits or vegetables. Usually there is more of the “other” stuff than there is proteins. Everything is usually a stew, a puree, a mash, or steamed. Jeow mak len is served as a side dish or with just sticky rice. I personally, can eat jewo mak len with just sticky rice and be perfectly content.


Jeow Mak Len

Jeow mak len is easy to make. Jeow, meaning sauce or salsa and Mak Len is tomato. That’s just it, roasted tomato salsa. You can make it as spicy or as mild as you want. It’s hard to gauge how many servings this recipe is for, because it really does depend on how much you eat. On average one serving is probably about a 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons). At least that’s how much I usually want.

Serves: 4 to 6 people
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 fresh Thai chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon dried ground red chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro


  1. Wrap tomatoes in aluminum foil and roast or grill on low heat for about 20 minutes on each side. This can be grilled on a stove top, or on a barbecue grill.
  2. Separate from the tomatoes, wrap garlic cloves and fresh chili peppers together in aluminum foil and roast or grill the same as above.
  3. In a pestle and mortar, gently mash/grind roasted peppers and garlic first.
  4. Add tomatoes and continue to mash.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients except for cilantro and continue to mash.
  6. Add cilantro last and stir in.


Any type of tomato or fresh chilies can be substituted on this recipe. Instead of a pestle and mortar, a blended can be used. Stir in cilantro, do not add to the blender process. Add more or less dried ground red chili peppers for heat.

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