Thursday, 25 August 2011

How to make Nuoc Cham Vietnamese dipping sauce

“Nước chấm” is a Vietnamese dipping sauce which is very versatile and can be served with Spring rolls, Summer rolls (the uncooked rice paper rolls; for recipe see: ), Vietnamese pancakes and rice vermicelli noodle dishes. It is, like all great South-East Asian food, a combination of sweet, sour, bitter and salty. There are a number of variations which can be made, like the addition of any of the following ingredients: raw grated garlic, vinegar, coconut water, fresh lemongrass slices, chopped nuts, finely chopped spring onions, fried garlic, ginger, or fresh herbs (coriander, sweet basil, and mint). The ingredients you would add will depend on what you are serving the sauce with.

This is a very basic Nuoc Cham recipe. There are other more complex versions available on the internet, but this will get you started. It will go with any of the dishes mentioned above, so you don't need to worry about any clash of flavours.

This sauce will go well with the Summer Roll recipe posted previously:


Makes a decent bowl full. You shouldn't need more than this even for a party of 4 dipping Summer rolls.

Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water (authentically there should be double this amount, but it works for me)

1 very finely chopped red chilli (I used Thai birds eye chillis, but these may be too hot for you, in which case use something milder or leave out altogether)
A sprinkling of very finely diced carrot (1mm-2mm cubes)


I would advise that you use an old (clean) jam jar for mixing the sauce up. It is the easiest method by far for combining these ingredients. This is a very useful trick I picked up from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food campaign for mixing up vinaigrette. It is much easier and convenient than trying to whisk up salad dressing in a bowl. Besides, if you don't use it all, you have a handy container to store the excess in until the next day when you can use it up.

Put all the ingredients into the jam jar except the water. Shake thoroughly until all the sugar has dissolved.

Now add the water a tablespoon at a time. Shake. Taste. When the sauce is to your taste (since you may prefer it with the full 4 tablespoons of water required for an authentic mix), then pour out into a suitable bowl for serving.

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