Nuoc Cham

A Sauce for Every Meal
Synthesis of Lime, Garlic, Nuoc Mam

Cooking with limes


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.

One of a family of Asian Dipping Sauces, including Red Ginger Sauce, Stir-Fry Oyster Sauce, Mustard Sauce,, and Ginger Sauce, as well as Red Ginger Sauce..

Nuoc Cham



½ fresh hot red Chili Pepper or 2 dried peppers

Cooking with Vietnamese Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce

Nuoc Mam

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.

Using garlic to make Vietnamese soup with pork cabbage rolls

Garlic – a Key Ingredient

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.


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  1. Pingback: Vietnamese cuisine | Pacific Rim Gourmet

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