Okay, this is the most popular Vietnamese dipping sauce yet it has so many variations of its name that could be confusing at times. For example, here are its names, written without the Vietnamese accent marks: Nuoc Mam, Nuoc Cham, Nuoc Mam Pha, Nuoc Mam Toi Ot, Nuoc Mam Chanh Ot and etc. But really, at home, Vietnamese would say, "Mom, you got some Nuoc Mam to go with this Com Bi?" And that Nuoc Mam is the one you see here. The word "Pha" means "to mix" in Vietnamese, so "Nuoc Mam Pha" means that the sauce has been "mixed" with water, sugar, lime, garlic, and etc. The direct translation of Nuoc Mam is "Fish Sauce", which is the pure sauce that comes from fish sauce bottling companies from Vietnam or Thailand. There are dishes that call for the "pure" fish sauce too, but you'll see that for dipping and dressing, you will definitely need the Nuoc Mam Pha. So let's get on with our recipes. I have here the "express" super quick version as well as the "traditional" from scratch version for your next meals.
RECIPE for several servings.
Store sauce in the refrigerator, in glass containers, up to 2 weeks for the best taste.
Traditional Nuoc Mam Pha
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup of premium fish sauce
5 tbs sugar
1 tsp chili paste
2-3 large cloves of garlic, pounded or minced fine
1 thai chili pepper, cut into small rings
Juice of a large lime
Add sugar to the water and fish sauce mix. Stir well to dissolve sugar.
Then add the rest of the ingredients, garlic, chili paste, lime juice and fresh chili.
Express Nuoc Mam Pha
1 cup of coco soda
3 tbs Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tbs of premium fish sauce
Squeeze of 1 wedge of fresh lime
Add all ingredients in a 2-cup bowl. Stir well. Add the lime at the end.