If you want to be able to cook Vietnamese food, then you'll need to master this dipping sauce; it's used in so many dishes to bring all the elements together. However, it can be easily messed up if you get the quantities wrong, and especially if your taste buds are not well versed in balancing the subtle nuances between sour, sweet, salty and spicy.
Herby Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
Total:
15 min
Active:
15 min
Yield:
1 cup
Level:
Intermediate
Total:
15 min
Active:
15 min
Yield:
1 cup
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese; see Cook's Note)
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 or 2 small Thai chiles, thinly sliced 
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful Vietnamese coriander leaves (rau ram), finely chopped

Directions

Mix the lime juice, sugar and 100 milliliters (1/2 cup) water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors if necessary to balance out the sweet and sour. Add the fish sauce, garlic and chiles. Taste again and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until needed, up to 24 hours. Just before serving, mix in the cilantro and Vietnamese coriander.

Cook's Note

For this sauce, it is worth seeking out a Vietnamese fish sauce, which is much lighter than the Thai version.

Cooking Tips 3 Videos

Step-by-step photos

Eggs 101: Poached 01:24

These easy steps will have you poaching eggs to perfection in no time.

Similar Topics:

IDEAS YOU'LL LOVE

Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Tiffani Thiessen

Nuoc Cham

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Saigon Crepes with Vietnamese Table Salad and Cilantro Lime Dipping Sauce

Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Ching-He Huang

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Steubens Chimichurri Dipping Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Matt Selby

On TV

So Much Pretty Food Here