Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

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.

6 comments:

Tom Aarons said...

Hey Tia. I just had a long look at the label on your beautiful bottle of fish sauce. In Khmer it seems to say "3 Crab Brand Kampot Fish Sauce" Which is cool. Except that Kampot-fish are puffer fish. And now I'm hoping I've read it wrong! :)

Tia said...

Tom - Hehe, that's funny. The Vietnamese label says it's made with 100% anchovies, which is consistent with the English label. I don't think I've seen a Vietnamese fish sauce that's not made with anchovies. Perhaps "Kampot" is referring to the southern province in Cambodia famous for its black pepper and fish sauce, and therefore is a marketing ploy geared towards Khmer speakers? Just a thought. ;)

Tom Aarons said...

Hey again Tia. I talked to my grocer about it, and he told me that it is fish-sauce of Kampot (as you suggest), not sauce of Kampot-fish. It does make a world of difference, and I am glad to be wrong! :)

Tia said...

Thanks for the update, Tom! This fish sauce is even more international than I thought! :)

arvelle said...

thanks for sharing the recipe, i've been looking for this dipping sauce so long.

Mary B said...

There is a hot sauce that my Aunt who is from vietnam, that is awesome. But u have to like it HOT!! It is so aawesome, it goea good with everything, Egg Rolls, Spring Rolls, Salads, Noodles, ect... Who cares what is in it, it is still good for you, lol!!