A Sauce for Every Meal
Synthesis of Lime, Garlic, Nuoc Mam
Nuoc Cham is a table condiment that appears at almost all Vietnamese meals. Basically it’s a way of using the standard Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce and picking up the flavor with Chili Peppers, Lime Juice and Garlic. There are a number of different ways of making it; this recipe adapted from Bach Ngo.
½ fresh hot red Chili Pepper or 2 dried peppers
1 clove Garlic, peeled
2 heaping teaspoons Sugar
½ fresh Lime
2 tablespoons Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce
2½ tablespoons Water, or more if desired.
First split the Chili Pepper and remove the seeds and membranes. Cut it into tiny pieces and put into a mortar.
Add the Garlic and Sugar and pound into a paste.
Squeeze the Lime Juice into the mortar, and then with a small sharp knife remove the pulp from the Lime and add it as well. Mash the mixture well and then add the Fish Sauce and Water. If the sauce is too strong, add about another tablespoon of Water.