“The nuoc cham doesn’t dip the same anywhere like it does at home”
Nuoc cham sauce is an indispensable basic dipping sauce that is always available on the Vietnamese dining table. You can use it to enhance the flavor of meat, fish or vegetables or as dressing on salads. As dressing, Nuoc cham has an important binding task to bring all ingredients with their own texture together.
The basic ingredients are water, sugar, fresh lemon juice, garlic, fresh chili and of course fish sauce. Nuoc cham elsewhere never tastes the same as home. Without mother’s care it tastes too salty, too sour, too spicy or worst of all, too watery. In restaurants it may cause disappointments if the Nuoc cham doesn’t taste well. That taste is linked to personal preference and upbringing.
There are numerous varieties of Nuoc cham. For special dishes it gets extra additions and subtle changes in preparation. It is clear that Nuoc cham in this way is a very important finishing touch. The basic dipping sauce is called nuoc cham (dipping sauce), mam ngoc (sweet fish sauce) or just nuoc mam (fish sauce). All special dips wears ‘nuoc’ and/or ‘mam’ in the name together with the additional ingredient(s). The tamarind fish sauce dip, for example, is called Mam me. Look here for recipes.