This is how you make nuoc cham: the mother of all sauces in Vietnam

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The Vietnamese cuisine? That’s pho! Noodles! Banh mi! dips! And as far as the latter is concerned, there is a dipping sauce that can safely be called the mother of all sauces in Vietnam: nuoc cham.

What exactly is nuoc cham?

Nuoc cham is a dressing based on fish sauce (a very important ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine), garlic, sugar, rice vinegar, chili pepper and lime. You read it already: really a textbook example of Vietnamese cooking where many flavors come together.

This makes the sauce very easy to combine with a wide variety of dishes. Nuoc cham is often the thing that is still missing to make a dish completely right.

In An An , a great cookbook with Vietnamese family recipes, we read that the dressing is served all over the country, with the amount of fish sauce in the sauce differing from region to region.

With pancakes, noodles or meat

It’s actually simple: if you’re making a Vietnamese dish, you can put nuoc cham on the table with confidence. Simply because it goes with everything. For example, we like to use the sauce as a dip for Banh Xeo , those bright yellow Vietnamese turmeric crepes.

The sauce also tastes very good with meat, such as fresh salads with strips of steak or dishes with pork belly. And whether you make spring or summer rolls , nuoc cham is a well-chosen dip here too. Culy’s Winnie favourite: toss the dipping sauce through rice noodles and top with vegetables, fresh herbs and peanuts – ideal for a home-work lunch.

Vietnamese pancake recipe: Banh Xeo

This is how you make nuoc cham

You can make the dressing yourself in less than 10 minutes. That’s no higher math, but the right proportions are crucial as always.

We think the recipe from An An is perhaps the best. In this process, sugar is first pounded in a mortar together with garlic and chili pepper and then stirred through the rest of the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Also nice about this recipe is that both lemon and lime are used, many recipes only go for the latter. However, that combination of the two citrus fruits makes the dressing immensely good.

Would you rather find a recipe online? Our own recipe for nuoc cham is slightly simpler and therefore a handy basic recipe. Nuoc cham can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

Source: Culy by
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