The Vietnamese dipping sauce and dressing known as Nuoc Cham is delicious and adaptable. Many Vietnamese recipes just wouldn’t be the same without it!
Hello, What is Nuoc Cham?
The ingredients of nuoc cham—fish sauce, garlic, lime juice, sugar, chilies, and vinegar—give it a salty, sweet, and sour flavor profile. You can taste the characteristic smokiness and umami of fish sauce, and there’s also a touch of fire.
Unlike most dipping sauces in the United States, this one has a very thin consistency, almost watery. Sure, it’s diluted with water so that the flavors can blend more smoothly, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s flavorless!
Sauce, Dressing, and Condiment That Can Be Used For Dipping, Seasoning, or Both
There are a lot of different ways you can use this nuoc cham at the dinner table.
It goes wonderfully with rice noodle salads like Sarah’s Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken and is great for dipping summer rolls and cha gio (Vietnamese fried spring rolls).
It goes well with any kind of grilled meat. Use the nuoc cham to marinate your meat or to flavor your rice. I guarantee you’ll want it in the middle of a meal.
Nuoc cham is a delicious and versatile condiment that may be used in a variety of ways, including as a marinade, a dipping sauce, or even a salad dressing.
Making a larger quantity of nuoc cham allows you to have it on hand (much like conventional salad dressing) and can be done with a jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. It can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the fridge; just remember to use clean hands and utensils whenever you’re working with it.
Our recipe only serves a few, but it’s simple to scale it for a larger gathering. However, despite its simplicity, I usually prefer to prepare it the day or night before I plan to serve it.
- 2 tablespoons of hot water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sliced or chopped red holland chili pepper
- 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- Whisk the sugar and boiling water together in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
- To finish, add the fish sauce and rice vinegar and stir until dissolved.
- Mix in the lime juice, garlic, and chilies just before serving. These components are best added right before serving.
- Substitute fresh chopped Thai chili peppers for the Holland chilies if you want a spicier dish. They’ll add some much-needed heat to the sauce.