A small bowl of Nuoc Cham is to the Vietnamese table what the salt shaker is to the western table. This versatile sauce is used for dipping vegetables, meats, and crispy appetizers in. It’s also used to add saltiness to cooked dishes, much like soy sauce in Chinese cooking. Most of the delicate sauces in Vietnam are made with slight enhancements to fish sauce, which is made by pressing salted anchovies in barrels for 9 months or more. Fish sauce uses the same fermenting process as Chinese soy sauce except made from the golden liquid pressed from heavily salted anchovies rather than soybeans. Both are used in similar fashions for cooking, marinating, and sauces.
Nuoc Cham – Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
- 2 small Red chiles, minced (or 2 tsp dried chili flakes)
- 1 tbsp White vinegar, heated
- ½ cup Fish sauce
- ¼ cup Fresh lime juice
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- ½ cup Sugar
- 1½ cups Warm water
- 1 small Carrot, peeled and shredded
- In a small bowl, mix vinegar and chilies together and let sit for 2 minutes. Add fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and sugar. Add 1½ cups warm water and stir until sugar is dissolved.Place shredded carrots, if using, in a jar with a lid. Pour mixture from the bowl into jar, close lid, and shake. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate up-to 1-2 weeks.