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Nước Mắm Sauce

Open the fridge in any Vietnamese household and you are sure to find a jar of nước mắm. I’m not talking about the pure bottled stuff, but rather the mix that accompanies many dishes on our dining table. It is often served as a dipping sauce for (eggrolls) or as a sauce drizzled over dishes, such as cơm tấm bì (broken rice with shredded pork) or bánh xèo (savory crêpes ).
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins


  • 1 part lime juice*
  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part hot water
  • 3 parts room temp water
  • 1 part nước mắm (fish sauce)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 bird's eye chili peppers


  • Combine the lime juice with the sugar. Then add the hot water and stir. Once all of the sugar has dissolved, add the rest of the water. Stir in the nước mắm. Depending on the saltiness of the nước mắm that you use and what the sauce will be served with, it may be necessary to add a little more nước mắm. If it will be served simply as a dipping sauce, the recipe above should suffice. However, if it will be served over vermicelli noodles with a heaping load of fresh herbs and lettuce, the sauce will need to be a little saltier. If I'm making about 500 ml of nước mắm, I tend to add about another tablespoon or two of nước mắm if it will be drizzled over a noodle dish. Once the sauce is to your tasting, add the minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves per 500 ml) and chili peppers.


*If using vinegar, reduce to 1/2 part.
I store the sauce in a jar, which should keep for about a month or so in the fridge.
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: Fish Sauce, Sauce