Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce (Nước Chấm)
Before I share more of my Vietnamese recipes, I thought that it would be a good idea to include the famous Vietnamese dipping fish sauce also know as nước mắm chấm or nước chấm. This dipping fish sauce is on the table of every Vietnamese household. It is served with many dishes which include egg rolls (chả giò), Vietnamese pancakes (bánh xèo), rice vermicelli (bún), and broken rice (cơm tấm) just to name a few. It is the perfect condiment for grilled meat or fish and vegetables; it literally brings everything to life.
Those of you who read my blog may have noticed that many of my recipes includes fish sauce. The reason behind that is because it’s an essential ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. Fish sauce is to the Vietnamese, as soy sauce is to the Chinese, and vinegar is to the Filipinos and so forth. Fish sauce elevates many dishes as it adds the umami flavor boost. There are many different types of sauces that we use but this Vietnamese dipping fish sauce is the primary one. Depending on which dish it is served with, there may be a slight variation but this is the base that works for many dishes.
I usually start by microwaving a lime for no more than 20 seconds and roll it out which allows more of the juice to be extracted. You’ll need more or less depending on the citrus fruit because I find that each one varies. (Please use fresh limes, bottled ones are not allowed!) Add some sugar to balance out the sour notes and dilute with water so it won’t be too salty. Lastly, chop some fresh garlic and chilies by hand and add it to the mixture. This will allow it to float on top which makes it more visually appealing. You’ll have to taste and adjust to find the right balance for your taste since every Vietnamese household has their own ratio that they prefer. It should be savory with a balance of sweet, slightly tangy, and a bite of spice or keep it mild.
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 Thai chilies (finely chopped)
- 2 limes or 4 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Chop garlic and Thai chilies.
- Combine fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Stir mixture until sugar is dissolved.
- Dilute mixture with water.
- Add in garlic and chilies. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Nước Chấm taste best when it’s freshly made but it can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for few months.