Mam Kho Quet is a sauce and vegetable dish derived from poverty when Vietnamese farmers had plentiful vegetables but very little protein. The dipping sauce is made by caramelizing fish sauce and sugar in a small clay pot with a small amount of pork, dried shrimp, dried fish, and/or pork fat. The sauce is then served in the clay pot alongside a platter of fresh and boiled vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, daikon, okra and squash. The dish is all about stretching a small amount of protein to add calories, as well as flavor, to an otherwise meager meal of mostly vegetables.
Although, Mam Kho Quet is a Vietnamese peasant dish, you can find it nowadays in many high-end restaurants all over Saigon. It's a taste of the past that is making its way back to mainstream Vietnam. Plus, it’s a great way to eat your vegetables!
Vietnamese Vegetable Dipping Sauce with Caramelized Fish Sauce (Mam Kho Quet)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (You can also use rendered pork fat from making fried pork fat)
- 1 small shallot (thinly slice)
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp (about 10 small shrimp, presoak in warm water to soften then drain dry)
- 1 garlic clove (roughly chop)
- 2 tablespoons good quality fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fried pork fat (optional)
- 1-4 chili peppers (optional)
- Assorted fresh and boiled vegetables cut into sticks or bite sizes (cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, daikon, okra, bitter melon, op squash, winter melon, etc.)
- In the very small clay pot, add oil. Heat on medium high then add shallot and dried shrimp. Stir until fragrant. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add fish sauce and sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes until mixture starts to boil and slightly thickens. Turn off heat.
- Top with black pepper, fried pork fat and chili peppers. Serve sauce in clay pot with fresh and/or boiled vegetables.