Nuoc Mam Cham (Sweet Chili Fish Sauce)

There are tons of different brands for fish sauce. It’s just like extra virgin olive oil. There are color variations such as the dark, the light, the medium light. Unfortunately, you can’t get this in less sodium or “light”. My two favorites are Viet Huong Three Crabs brand and Phu Quoc Brand. I like the Viet Huong for non-cooking such as sauces or drizzle over salads and rice. It’s a bit lighter to me. I love love the Phu Quoc for cooking because it’s a bit darker and more potent. So it brings out the intense flavor during cooking process.

This sauce can be tricky but once you get a gist of the base ingredients, your sauce will get better every time.

1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp. sugar aside
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup fish sauce
1-2 lime, juiced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or mortared
3 Thai chili pepper, minced or mortared
1 tsp. of sambal chili sauce (this is to give it some color)

In a microwavable bowl, heat up the sugar and water for about 1-2 minute until the sugar is completely dissolve. It’s like a simple syrup. When done, leave to cool.

In a mortar, placed the peeled garlic, chili and 1 tbsp. sugar and start crushing the garlic and pepper until finely crushed. Scrape everything out into a container or a big sauce bowl.

Squeeze the limes, pour in the simple syrup, fish sauce and stir with a spoon to blend all the ingredients together.

OK, here is the trial and tasting phase. It should be a combination of sweet, salty and tangy taste with a kick from the garlic and pepper.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups


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