Nuoc Cham – Vietnamese Dipping or Hot Sauce

Nuoc Cham is like fried chicken in the South – everybody’s mother or grandmother makes THE best.  Well, this recipe was given to me by a grandmother of my friend Tran.  She told me about Fish Sauce.  It is fermented fish (usually anchovies) and drained.  The first draining is clear and delicately flavored.  The subsequent drainings get darker, stronger, and cheaper.  So be sure you look at the darkness or lightness of the fish sauce before you purchase.  I first had this used in which to dip crispy spring rolls.  It was love at first bite.  Next it was presented to me in one of those bottles with pour top like they have in bars. This time to splash over tender thin strips of grilled chicken breast, broken rice, and sliced cucumbers, scallions, carrots and daikon radish.  Wow.  Feeling a tad adulterous, I had to tell this plate of food, I love you too!!!  Mix according to basic instructions.  If you want more heat, add more red pepper flakes or a Thai chili pepper.  Add more vinegar or sugar or garlic.  After all, it is YOUR sauce now.  And even if you aren’t somebody’s mother or grandmother, you can tell someone, this is THE BEST nuock cham on the planet. It’s good on fish (even southern fried catfish), pork, raw veggies…whatever floats your boat and makes your mouth smile.  Y’all enjoy.

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. lime peel, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
Some shredded carrot and radish
Increase the amount of red pepper flakes to suit taste. Combine garlic, lime peel, and red pepper flakes then add lime juice, fish sauce, water, and sugar.  Whisk until all ingredients are blended and sugar is dissolved. Add shredded carrot and radish to sauce
Will keep short periods if refrigerated. Serve as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or whatever.
substitutions:  1 tbs. fish sauce = 1 tbs. worcestershire sauce

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