In Vietnamese, it is called Nuoc Mam Cham. You can call it a sauce. You can call it a dip. You can call it a dressing. It's the best thing for egg rolls, spring rolls, cold noodle dishes, and stir fries - in Vietnamese cooking! I love coming across my Asian condiment in American cookbooks. Gwyneth Paltrow lists it as one of the important staples for your pantry in her book. John Besh uses it, and he serves Pho to his family too! More recently, I came across fish sauce in Michael Ruhlman's book Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto. He listed it as optional but advised in his Winter Vegetable Garbure. It sounds fancy, but it's just soup by the way. He actually included it in many of his recipes, which surprised me, because I thought I used it a lot in unconventional ways!
Store it in a jar in your fridge.
- 2 small red or green chilies
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup of sugar, I prefer all natural cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, I prefer Red Boat (updated 2016)
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- Mash the chilies and garlic together, or chop in a mini chopper.
- Add the fish sauce. Top with sugar. Add the warm water, then stir till the sugar dissolves.
- Add the lime juice and stir, continuing to flavor if needed.
This sauce is delicious with: