Vietnamese Nuoc Cham

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Nuoc Cham Ingredients

Nuoc Cham Ingredients

Nuoc Cham is one of the key sauces in Vietnamese cuisine. It is a sweet chili sauce that is either served with dishes as a dipping sauce or used to dress a salad. If you visit a pho noodle house, a bowl of Nuoc Cham will accompany your deep fried spring rolls. Good Nuoc Cham is viscous enough to float chili pieces and garlic in it. I find that it actually takes on the colour of the chiles and becomes a beautiful translucent red.

The following experimental recipe is a modification of one that comes from taunton.com. The modifications come from applying the ratio of ingredients that is described in the entry for Nuoc Cham on wikipedia.net.

The image comes from taunton.com

Experimental Recipe follows:

Experimental Recipe

Stuff you’ll need:

  • 1.5 cloves garlic
  • 2 or 3 Thai bird’s eye red chiles (remove seeds if you want to lessen the heat)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • juice of a 1 lime (approximately 2-3 tbsp) or 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp shredded carrots (optional)

According to the wikipedia.net article, Nuoc Cham should be made with the following approximate ratio of ingredients: 1 part lime/lemon juice: 1 part fish sauce: 1 part sugar: 2 parts water.


  1. Finely chop the garlic and chilies and add them to a small bowl. Alternatively, you could grind everything with mortar and pestle. Personally, I don’t think it appropriate to pulverize garlic.
  2. Pour in the fish sauce
  3. Add the sugar.
  4. Add the water and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Add the lime juice and shredded carrots. Stir and serve.
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