Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce, or Nuoc Mam Cham or Nuoc Mam Ot, is used in many Vietnamese dishes: cha gio (egg rolls), goi cuon (spring rolls), banh xeo (Vietnamese crepes), banh cuon (Vietnamese rice rolls), Vietnamese mini pancakes (banh khot), grilled meats, fried fish and shell fish. If these dishes do not come with Nuoc Mam Cham, there's no point in eating them. Nuoc Mam Cham is such a major component of Vietnamese cooking that it should be a prerequisite for marriage.
There are ready-made fish sauce dipping sauces readily available in stores, but the best ones are the ones you make yourself.
I've grown up eating this sauce. It has such a delicate taste that any small addition can go from incredibly tasty to incredibly bad. Many people, including myself, frequently get the ratios of ingredients wrong. I finally turned to the my cooking-extraordinaire mother-in-law for help. Her recipe is so delicious that I have seen guests slurp down her sauce. Her recipe is the perfect combination of sour, sweet, salty and spicy. Her secret ingredient? Coconut soda. My Vietnamese dipping sauce woes are now over as I finally asked her to quantify each ingredient after many failed solo attempts.
Below is her recipe for the best Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce ever.
Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce Recipe (Nuoc Mam Cham)
This recipe makes about 3 cups of dipping sauce. Any leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to one month:
- 1 cup of hot water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (1 fresh lime)
- I cup of coconut soda (Coco Rico brand)
- 3/4 cup fish sauce (Viet Huong's Three Crabs brand)
- 6 minced garlic cloves
- 2 minced Thai chili peppers with seeds removed
Combine the hot water and sugar and mix until dissolved. Let it cool. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined.