Nước chấm. Vietnamese dipping sauce

Nước cham

You know that saying that goes like this.

“we eat with our eyes first”

Well this was the dish that taught me that.

I remember when I was young and I was helping my mother to make up some nuoc cham, she asked me to chop up the garlic, so I went at it like a bat out of hell. I smashed through it in lighting speed. I was so proud of myself. That was until mother had turned around and seen my handy work.  She said,

My god, your just like your father, no care in presentation. Start again and cut that garlic more fine and more consistent.  When you cook something that looks beautiful then it will always taste better.

I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about then, but another time she told me, During the war people in Vietnam were very poor and didn’t have much to eat, sometime nothing or just rice. So when ever I was to cook, I had respect the produce, make it as appealing to the eye as possible. That way it already tasted good before it was even eaten. That way one could be fully satisfied once they did eat it.

From then on, I’ve always tried to make my dishes as appealing to look at as possible.

Nước chấm

At its core

Nước chấm, is essentially only 4 ingredients ,  lime, sugar, fish sauce and water. but for this recipe we going to spice it up a bit with some garlic and chilli.   Its flavour should be well balanced and it is a staple in just about every Vietnamese house hold. I always have a jar made up in the fridge and ready to serve!


1 cup warm water

1/2 cup white caster sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

1/2 cup Vietnamese fish sauce

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 bird’s eye chili, minced


In a small bowl add the sugar and pour the water over and stir until dissolved. Now add the fish sauce, lemon or lime, garlic and chilli. This sauce needs to be well balanced so you will need to test and adjust the sweet, sour and saltiness of it to suit your taste.

Simple folks, that’s Saba’s Nước chấm

Now it’s ready to serve and enjoy!!


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  1. YS Reply

    Well said ! After reading your story and this crossed my mind “there is always a great woman behind every successful man” 💯

    No doubts, you are no .1 in plating your produce 🎖🥇🎖

    I started to make and keep Nuoc Cham many months ago. It’s my staple too 😄😄😄 So easy to make and it could go with almost everything in my opinion. I ever ate it with piping hot rice and sunny side up. Trust me, it works well 👍