Nuoc Cham: Fish Dipping Sauce

This is probably the most important sauce in Vietnamese cooking, used as a dipping sauce with many dishes, including spring rolls, crepes, grilled meats and seafood. For a spicier sauce, mince rather than slice the chilies and garlic. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
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  • Total: 30 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Yield: 2 cups
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5 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons water

1/3 cup fish sauce

1/2 cup lime or lemon juice (about 3 limes or 2 lemons)

1 large clove garlic, crushed, peeled and sliced or minced

1 or more bird's eye or Thai chiles, seeded and sliced or minced

1 shallot, peeled, thinly sliced, rinsed, and drained (optional)


  1. Whisk together the sugar, water, fish sauce, and lime or lemon juice in a bowl, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the garlic, chile, and shallot if using, and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

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