If you love that slightly sweet umami flavored Nuoc Cham Vietnamese dipping sauce served in restaurants, you’ll be happy to know it’s super easy to make and I’ll show you how right here!
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A dipping sauce commonly used in Vietnamese cooking, Nuoc Cham 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. It is almost drinkable…seriously…it’s that good. 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.
Related Post: Crispy Vietnamese Baked Chicken
About the Fish Sauce
What exactly is 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. My favorite fish sauce to use is Red Boat Vietnamese Extra Virgin Fish Sauce Bottle, 8.45 Ounce. Made with black anchovies and sea salt, this fish sauce contains no additives like MSG. And the flavor is wonderful, of course.
Recipe for Nuoc Cham
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.
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.
Now wasn’t that easy? This Nuoc Cham dipping sauce is delicious served with these egg rolls, served alone on fresh egg noodles or rice, or great served on a salad of marinated beef and egg rolls. This stuff is amazing! Experiment and let me know what you like to serve it with.
If you love sauces, you may like some of these other recipes: