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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!
A dipping sauce commonly used in Vietnamese cooking, Nuoc Cham is one of my all time favorite dipping sauces.
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 that is almost drinkable…seriously…it’s that good.
Make it ahead and store it in the fridge (in a covered container) as it will last a long time.
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 40 (affiliate link – I earn a small commission to help me keep making recipes for you guys if you buy through this link). 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:
Did you make this recipe? Leave me a comment below and let me know how it turned out!
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)
- Whisk together the lime, warm water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
- Slowly add the fish sauce, a little at a time until you reach your desired flavor. I find the amount in the recipe is perfect, but every one has their own tastes.
- Add the chilies and garlic and let it stand for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.
- Adjust the amount of chilies to your spice preference. Remember that Thai chilies can be extremely spicy.
- Use warm water to help the sugar dissolve.
- Add the fish sauce slowly, tasting along the way, until you get the perfect flavor. You may have to add more/less depending on your preference.
- For a sweeter nuoc cham, reduce the amount of fish sauce to 5 tablespoons.