What is that sweet/vinegar-y dipping sauce they have at Vietnamese places? I am totally addicted to it and am getting mocked at my local restaurant for always getting extra to go. Can I purchase it or is it easy to make? They just call it "Vietnamese dipping sauce".

  • Posted by: mklug
  • October 20, 2010


mklug October 21, 2010
Anchovies: the gateway umami.
pierino October 21, 2010
mklug, it's okay to work with anchovies but don't start cooking meth as you might blow up your house.
mklug October 21, 2010
Thank you all! Great news that I can make it and use it for more than dipping stuff--and experiment with anchovies (great info, Pierino!). Of course, this is just like telling a crack addict "sure, you can easily make it at home, and here's what else you can do with it to get your fix", but there are worse vices than what I now know is nuoc cham addiction!
pierino October 21, 2010
Fish sauce, like garum, is one of those amazing ingredients. Its key component is fermented anchovies. By itself it smells like something you would use to fertilize your plants. But combined with other ingredients, something magic happens: nuoc cham. BTW anchovies are one of the key ingredients of Worcestershire sauce, which goes back to the early 19th Century.
prettyPeas October 20, 2010
Yep, it's nuoc cham--fish sauce, lime, sugar, garlic, and chilis (sometimes garnished with finely shaved carrots). I always had a difficult time getting the balance of sugar/lime/fish sauce/water right until I read the suggestion here: http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/blog/2008/11/basic-vietnamese-dipping-sauce-nuoc-cham.html to make a limeade to taste, then add the fish sauce and other savory ingredients. It's much harder to taste the sweet/sour balance when there is fish funk and salt in the mix. I've also enjoyed some versions that have fired shallots and/or garlic as an addition.
bella S. October 20, 2010
In Asian grocery stores I pick up a bottled version, NuocMam Ploc Sauce. Adds great flavor to many things. I whisk it with some mayonaisse for a version of cole slaw. Add it to salad dressings. Add it to Asian style meatballs, or meat in lettuce cups.It's a also a great dipping sauce for spring rolls.
TiggyBee October 20, 2010
I think it's nuoc cham, which is a mix of fish sauce, garlic and chilis. I have a friend that makes a great one, I'll see if she'll give me her recipe to post.
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