Dippings, fresh herbs and vegetables are important features of Vietnamese cuisine. For the basic dippings and dressings you’ll need fish sauce, fresh lemon juice, garlic and bird’s eye chillies. Additional additives such as ginger, tamarind, tomatoes and anchovies give dips a typical taste that fits the corresponding dish or specialty. The dips are often topped with strips of carrots, chopped coriander, roasted peanuts, papaya, cucumber or sesame seeds. In addition, peanut sauce, coconut milk, soy sauce, chili sauce and hoisin sauce are also used to make special sauces for more choice. The basic fish dipping sauce Nuoc cham suits all dishes, so it is useful to keep it in the refrigerator. The recipes for dips are guidelines. Adjust the quantities to prefer more or less heat, sour, salty and sweet.
In addition, peanut sauce, coconut milk, soy sauce, chili sauce and hoisin sauce are also used to make special sauces for more choice. The basic fish dipping sauce Nuoc cham suits alle dishes, so it is useful to keep some in the refrigerator. The recipes for dips are guidelines. Adjust quantities to taste for more or less heat, sour, salty and sweet.

The dips which have an extra addition for the ‘special’ dish that calls for it, I never keep in the refrigerator. I make these sauces on the day of consumption.

* Basic fish dipping sauce | Nuoc cham (Nuoc mam cham, Nuoc mam ngot)
This sauce is also the basic for the dressing on salads. I have this standard available in the refrigerator. My mother keeps them beautiful in old wine bottles, making them look precious, and her fish dipping sauce certainly are. Nuoc cham you can store about 2 months after the preparation in a closed jar. Always easy to have on hand.

  • 100 ml water
  • 100 g of sugar
  • 50ml fish sauce
  • 25 ml lemon juice
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Add the garlic, chilies and fish sauce.
  3. Add the lemon juice and taste.

 

* Ginger fish dipping sauce | Mam gung
A somewhat thick sauce with ginger as an addition. Uncommonly good with steamed chicken and seafood or grilled seafood. I make the ginger dipping slightly spicier and sweeter than the basic dipping sauce and sometimes leave the garlic.

  • 75 ml fish sauce
  • 75 g of sugar
  • 30g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 25 ml lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies
  1. Put the ginger, garlic cloves, chillies and sugar in a mortar and grind finely.
  2. Stir in the fish sauce and lemon juice into the mixture to a slightly thick sauce. It does not matter if the sugar is not completely dissolved.

 

* Anchovy dipping sauce| Mam nem
This is a dipping sauce of Nha Trang for the enthusiasts who want to try everything, because Mam nem has a pentrating aroma of fermented anchovies. Sometimes even with pieces of fish in it. The bottles are muddy with a gray-brown color, because the whole fish is used in stead of filtering the liquid. The fresh pineapple compensates for the strong odor to some extent. This sauce is delicious with grilled seafood and beef vinegar fondue, Bo nhung dam. My mom makes this sauce sometimes with whole anchovies in it.

  • 60 ml of water, boiled
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy sauce (from bottle Mam nem)
  • 25 ml lemon juice
  • 3 tsp fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
  1. Stir the sugar and lemon juice well with the anchovy sauce Mam nem
  2. Add the pineapple, garlic and chili peppers.
  3. Pour the hot water gradually to the anchovy pasta mixture and stir well until a smooth substance.

 

* Hoisin dipping sauce | Nuoc tuong ngot
This dip is actually used only with rice paper rolls and even then it is not always necessary, basic dipping sauce is usually sufficient. But always good to have additional choice. Hoisin sauce can also be mixed with peanut dipping sauce and basic dipping sauce, dispersed with water to taste for a thinner sauce.

  • 75 ml hoisin sauce
  • 75 ml coconut milk or milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (with chunks of peanuts)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Mix all ingredients, except for the roasted peanuts, in a saucepan. Heat without boiling and let the sauce cool.
  2. Garnish with the roasted peanuts.

 

* Tamarind coriander dipping sauce | Mam me
The fruity sour taste of tamarind replace the lemon juice. Very delicious with grilled or cooked fish.

  • 100 ml water
  • 75 g of sugar
  • 50 g tamarind paste (amount of acid to taste)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 bird’s eye chillies, cut into small rings
  • cilantro, chopped
  1. Put the water in a saucepan with the sugar and tamarind. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Press with a fork the tamarind apart, it’s fine if the tamarind is not completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
  2. Add the chilli, fish sauce and chopped garlic.
  3. Just before serving, sprinkle chopped coriander over the sauce.

 

* Vegetarian dipping sauce | Mam chay
This is a sauce that is used to dip with vegetarian spring rolls. Put all the ingredients together and mix well. Amount to taste.

  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • chilis or sambal oelek to taste