This sauce is used to accompany various Vietnamese dishes. Often called “nước chấm” (dipping sauce), nước mắm pha (mixed fish sauce), or nước mắm chua ngọt (sweet and sour fish sauce. There are many variations of nước mắm, but it all starts off from the “basic recipe”.
-1/2 cup water or coconut juice or lime soda (such as 7-up or sprite)
-1/4 cup sugar (reduce if using coconut juice or pop)
-3 tbs fish sauce
-2 cloves garlic
-2 Thai chilies (optional)
-flesh from ½ lime (or juice)
What to Do:
Finely mince garlic and chillier (or use chillier paste instead). Crush together sugar and lime flesh, add garlic, chilies and water. Add fish sauce last and stir everything together. Give the sauce a taste, all flavors (sweet, salty, spicy and sour) should be equal.
All measurements are approximate as the saltiness of fish sauce depends on the brand. Adjust sauce to “match” the flavors of the dish it will be accompanying. For example, if the dish is already salty then the sauce should be more sour and sweet than salty. If the dish is sour than the sauce should be more sweet and salty than sour. Adjust the measurements accordingly.
For vegetarian dishes, replace fish sauce with soy sauce and omit garlic (if you’re a Buddhist vegetarian).
Nước Mắm Gừng (with Ginger):
Reduce garlic and chillies by ½, and add 1 tbs fresh ground or mince ginger. This sauce is usually served with dishes that have duck as the main ingredient.
Nước Mắm Me (with Tamarind):
Use the flesh of sour tamarind instead of lime. Soak the tamarind in water which will be used to make the sauce (1/2 cup) until soft and filter before using.
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