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Related Ingredients

Tasting Notes

This Thai dressing makes the perfect sauce for fish.

Sambal chili paste gives the vinaigrette a spicy, smoky base, but sugar and fresh orange juice mellow its stringent heat. Acidic lime juice and vinegar cut through the sweetness and spice, while fish sauce lends a salty and fermented flavor that gives the dressing depth. Cilantro brings its grassy freshness, and neutral grapeseed oil adds enough richness to balance the vinaigrette without complicating its flavor.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Stir it up. When making vinaigrettes, it’s always best to combine the sugar and/or salt with vinegar or juice before incorporating remaining ingredients – particularly the oil. This will distribute the seasoning more evenly.
  2. The spice is right. Since there are several types of sambal, you can experiment to figure out which chili paste you like best. We prefer Sambal Bajak – its heat may vary, but it’s generally made with nothing but chilies.
  3. Plan ahead. If you’re preparing the dressing more than 4 to 6 hours in advance, reserve the scallions and cilantro to avoid discoloration. Chop them up and stir them in just moments before serving.
  4. Simple substitution. If you don’t have fish sauce on hand, you can substitute minced anchovies for a similarly funky flavor.


This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.


1. Whisk. When stirring any vinaigrette, use a whisk to fully incorporate the ingredients and distribute the seasonings evenly.


The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.


  •  Small pot
  •  Rubber spatula or spoon
  •  Whisk
  •  Cutting board & knife
  •  Large glass bowl
  • Citrus reemer

Thai Vinaigrette Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot (about 1 shallot)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sambal bajak (Indonesian chili condiment) or other chili paste such as Thai red chili paste
  • 4 scallions (green part only) finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ a lime) to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Yield: 1 Cup

Active Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hour

  1. Place both oils in a small saucepot and place over low heat.  Add ginger and shallot and stir to sweat the shallot and impart the flavors into the oil, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add sugar.
  2. Turn off the heat and add soy, fish sauce, sambal, scallions, rice wine vinegar, lime and orange juice. Stir to mix. The heat left in the oils will heat the rest of the ingredients helping to release their flavors.
  3. Let the sauce steep for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. NOTE: the sauce will become even more developed in flavor over time but it should be transferred to the refrigerator after an hour. Let sit in the refrigerator until ready to use – or up to 2 days.
  4. Right before serving, pour the vinaigrette into a bowl and add chopped cilantro, whisking ingredients together until emulsified.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Grilled pork and vegetable lettuce wraps with Thai dressing

This Thai dressing makes a great dipping sauce for lettuce wraps. Stuff butter lettuce leaves with grilled pork, julienned vegetables and crispy shallots and serve the vinaigrette as a dip on the side.