Monday, September 29, 2014

Vietnamese Fish Sauce [Nuoc Cham]

Versions of this Thai and Vietnamese popular dipping sauce are a balance of sweet, tart, salty and spicy. Variations are as many as the homes that prepare it. There is no absolute recipe. Ginger might compliment garlic and sweetness is balanced with acidity from limes and or vinegar. Fish sauce provides the saltiness. Before you taste straight fish sauce and decide, its use might be better suited to cat food, understand that Worcestershire sauce, one of the world’s best selling condiment derives its unique flavor from anchovies. Fish sauce has a strong flavor. Add it last, a little at a time, tasting as you go.

1/2 Cup sugar dissolved in a cup hot water
1/4 Cup good fish sauce or less (Tiparos is a popular choice)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice from one or more limes (include some pulp if you like)
3 cloves of minced garlic
1-2 Teaspoons crushed red pepper (see note 1)
Chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely shredded carrot
Few sprigs of cilantro
Lime slices

This sauce is great for Thai or Vietnamese spring rolls.


1. Crushed red pepper flakes are mildly hot (4 on a scale of ten), Thai peppers are a lot hotter but are more often used for this sauce.

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