Some might wonder if nuoc mam (fish sauce) runs in the veins of Vietnamese people. Indeed it is almost synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine and is used as a flavoring agent, dipping sauce, and dressing for countless dishes. The basic components of dipping sauce are fish sauce, lime juice, water, crushed garlic, and chiles. There are numerous variations on the quantities as well as additions (such as ginger) but ultimately, it depends on your personal preference so feel free to experiment.
Good idea to store nuoc mam in a 2 lt bottle? Find out below..
Nuoc Mam Cham (Dipping Fish Sauce)
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon rice or plain vinegar (optional)
- 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 hot chile pepper or Jalapeno (at least)
- 3 clove of garlic, use more or less according to taste
- ~1/8 cup fish sauce, adjust to taste
- pickled carrots and daikon, optional.
- Rooster brand chile garlic sauce (optional)
Add water and sugar to mix well to dissolve. You can heat the water up before hand to make it dissolve quickly. Add lime juice and vinegar (optional). It should taste like a very very bland lime-ade. If you have a morter, crush the garlic and chiles (if not, finely mince them) together and add to the mixture. Finally, slowly add the fish sauce a few tablespoons at a time instead of all at once. Taste frequently and stop when you feel it’s just right. It’s much easier to adjust the flavor of the dipping sauce by adding the fish sauce at the end bit by bit, adjusting to your personal taste. For a deeper red color, add some chile garlic sauce. You can also add pickled carrots and daikon into the nuoc mam cham as well.
Coming from Vietnam, everything was valuable. Our parents didn’t want to part with anything and 2-L bottles were commonly used in our family to store large quantities of nuoc mam. One day, my cousin came home after a long day of grueling football practice looking for some ice cold soda to quench his thirst… he grabbed the first soda bottle in the fridge he saw and took a huge gulp, and immediately his eyes bulged, his mouth puckered, and out flew the nuoc mam with a scream of utter shock….you would think that my parents would be sympathetic, but no–he was strictly admonished for wasting a good bottle of nuoc man….