Mắm Nêm is a very pungent Vietnamese sauce made with fermented anchovy, crushed pineapples, sugar, lemon juice, Thai chili pepper, lemongrass and garlic. It is a hard-core alternative to wherever the more widely known Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham) is used, and best alongside beef dishes as in Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Beef (Bo Nuong Vi).
Mam Nem is an acquired taste, but once you are used to it, it's all about the Mam Nem. Make sure not to get any on your clothes. And it goes without saying, no contact with a significant other until after brushing ;-)
Vietnamese Fermented Anchovy Dipping Sauce Recipe (Mam Nem)
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup bottled Mắm Nêm Pha Sẵn sauce (don't let the name of the bottled sauce fool you. Although it translates to "ready-to-eat," you will need the rest of these ingredients to make a tasty sauce and less pungent sauce)
1/2 cup crushed pineapples (preferably, fresh but canned will also do)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 Thai chili pepper (mince finely)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic (mince finely)
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
In a small bowl, mix together Mắm Nêm Pha Sẵn sauce, crushed pineapples, sugar, lemon juice, and chili pepper.
In a small pan, heat up vegetable oil on medium high. Add garlic and lemongrass and sauté until fragrant.
Transfer the fried garlic and lemongrass to the Mắm Nêm mixture and mix until combined. If sauce is too thick, mix in a little water or the juice from canned pineapples until you get the desired consistency.