Easy Vietnamese Fish Sauce - Nuoc Mam

1 3/4 Cup
8 min

Spicy, zesty and sweet, nuoc mam ( nước mắm ) packs a lot of flavors and all you need is 8 minutes. This classic Vietnamese dipping sauce goes with a lot of main dishes like noodles, can be brushed while grilling meats to add a balanced sweet and savory touch or use it as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, fried spring rolls or other appetizers.

If you ever visit Vietnam, you will find that there are different ways in which nuoc mam is prepared across different regions of the country. With a sauce made with broth in the north, mix of water and broth in the central region, to a sauce made with coconut water base in the south. What is common among all regions are the base ingredients of the fish sauce, red chilli, garlic, sugar and obviously the fish sauce. So ask about these variants when you visit different Vietnamese restaurants.

On top of the variants, you find within Vietnam itself, there are other adaptations of the recipe. Some recipes suggest replacing water with Coco Rico Soda which is a Puerto Rican soda brand infused with coconut extract (so kind of like a coconut soda) . Some recipes add carrots as well. Whatever the variants may be, the fact remains that nuoc mam is really to make and easy to store up to 3 or 4 months if you store in an airtight container. You will find out soon enough with this dipping sauce recipe.

Difference between fish sauce and nuoc mam?

Nuoc mam translates to fish sauce, however by common usage, when someone refers to Nuoc mam, they usually think of the dipping sauce you get alongside spring-rolls. The actually translation of the dipping sauce version of nuoc mam is ‘nuoc mam pha’, which means mixed fish sauce or ‘nuoc mam cham’ which stands for fish sauce for dipping.

Can you cook with fish sauce?

Fish sauce can be really strong to taste and smell if you try it out from the bottle. However, it can be more milder to taste if you add in some vinegar or lime juice, sugar and spices.

How to store nuoc mam?

If you store it in an airtight jar, nuoc mam can stay good for 4 months or so in the refrigerator

Easy Vietnamese Fish Sauce - Nuoc Mam
Recipe details
  • 1 3/4  Cup
  • Prep time: 8 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 8 min
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  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Lime juice (or vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Finely chopped
  • 2 whole Bird's eye chili Finely chopped

1. Take a small bowl and add water, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, chopped garlic and bird’s eye chilies and mix till the sugar is dissolved.
2. Serve the sauce with your favorite dishes as a dip.
3. Store the leftovers inan air-tight container and refrigerate it for long term
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