A dipping sauce commonly used in Vietnamese cooking, Nước Chấm is a delightfully flavorful and versatile sauce. Consisting of fish sauce, garlic, chilies, sugar and lime juice, this sauce is the epitome of the Vietnamese flavors of sweet, salty, sour and spicy. The lime juice and sugar counteract the fishiness of the fish sauce. The result is an incredibly flavorful “umami” dipping sauce, delicious served with so many different foods. Make it ahead and store it in the fridge as it will last indefinitely. Cover the sauce with a tight lid or the rest of your food may become infused with fish sauce flavor.
About the Fish Sauce
Let’s talk a little bit about the fish sauce. Made out of salted, fermented fish, the resulting flavor is not overly fishy, however, the smell can be quite strong. It adds a depth of flavor to any recipe that is intense yet subtle. Don’t be afraid of trying it, you may be pleasantly surprised by what it can add to ANY dish (think spaghetti sauce, BBQ sauce, beef stew, curries, etc.). Just not dessert…it is not good for dessert.
Recipe for Nước Chấm
They key to this sauce is getting the flavor balance correct. Adding the water at the end ensures we get the intensity we are looking for. Add more chilies for additional spice if desired.
2 cups water (warm)
Juice of 1 lime
5 tbsp. granulated white sugar
2 tbsp. red or green Thai chilies (any chili can be substituted)
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce Sur La Table Red Boat 40°N Fish Sauce, 8.45 fl. oz.
Whisk together the lime, chilies and garlic. Add the fish sauce and sugar. Slowly add the water a little at a time, stirring and tasting until it reaches desired intensity. Warm water will help the sugar dissolve more quickly. I find that 2 cups of water gives it the intensity I am looking for, but for a more or less intense flavor, increase or decrease the water content.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. This commission helps me continue to bring you great content and make improvements to elevate the user experience.