There are endless variations of nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce), most of which contain the key ingredient of fish sauce. Fish sauce is widely popular throughout Southeast Asia and varies significantly from one country to another. I like to use top-grade Vietnamese fish sauce such as Three Crabs Brand, which is a product of Thailand that is processed in Hong Kong and tailored to the Vietnamese palette.
This recipe is for the most basic and ubiquitous dipping sauce for many Vietnamese dishes.
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 Persian lime, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 bird’s eye chilies, seeded & finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Allow sugar to dissolve completely and liquid to reduce a bit. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, add chopped garlic and chili and cover with lime juice. Covering the garlic and chili with lime juice first enables them to float in the sauce instead of sink to the very bottom. Once the simple syrup has cooled, add it to the mixture and drizzle in the fish sauce. Stir well and serve. Any extra sauce can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. I prefer to make my sauce fresh every time.