Try this sweet & tangy classic Vietnamese dipping sauce known as Nuoc Cham. Made with fish sauce, fresh lime juice, garlic & sugar. A delicious spring roll dipping sauce or vermicelli sauce!
This Vietnamese dipping sauce is so full of flavor and delicious! It’s perfectly salty with tons of umami flavor from the fish sauce, it’s tangy from the fresh lime juice, and has just the right amount of sweetness.
Also known as Nuoc Cham, this is best described as a fish sauce vinaigrette with shredded carrots that’s used widely in Vietnam as a spring roll or summer roll dipping sauce or a vermicelli noodle sauce.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s a light, fat free sauce that doesn’t weight you down
- Tons of flavor – tangy, bright, sweet, spicy, salty
- It’s super versatile – you can use this to dip fresh spring rolls or fried spring rolls, wontons, vermicelli bowls, and more!
- Doubles as a marinade – add in chopped lemongrass and use this to marinate pork, chicken, beef, or seafood!
- Use it as a dressing – add this fish sauce vinaigrette to any Asian style salads
Ingredients you’ll need
- Fish sauce – I recommend using this brand of fish sauce. It’s not overly salty and has great flavor.
- Chilis – use any kind of red chilis. Thai chilis are great if you want it extra spicy.
- Vinegar – use a bright vinegar such as rice wine vinegar.
- Lime – fresh squeezed juice is best.
- Chili garlic sauce – (optional) if you want the sauce extra spicy.
- Carrots – Add this in right before serving so the carrots stay crunchy.
- Set aside the carrots. Add the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and stir together until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Add the carrots right before serving. You can also chili garlic sauce if you want it spicier.
Frequently asked questions
In Vietnamese, Nuoc Cham means “sauce” which can refer to any kind of sauce in general. Whereas, Nuoc Mam means “fish sauce”which is the main ingredient in this dipping sauce.
If you plan to make this ahead, I would leave out the carrots as they can wilt. Then store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The saltiness of the sauce helps it stay fresh for longer.
Serve this with the following dish:
- fresh spring rolls or summer rolls or fried egg rolls
- vermicelli noodle bowls
- dressing for Asian salads
- dip for vegetable or meat skewers
- 3 Classic Spring Roll Dipping Sauces
- Remoulade Crab Cake Sauce
- Sweet and Tangy Sticky Soy Glaze
- Spicy Asian Chimichurri Sauce
Classic Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
- ¼ cup fish sauce – see Note 1; vegetarian option in Note 2
- ¼ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice – freshly squeezed (about half a lime)
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar – see Note 3
- 1 clove garlic – finely diced
- 1 small Thai chili pepper – finely diced
- 1 Tablespoon shredded carrot
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce – (optional)
- Set the carrots aside. Add the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix it together until the sugar completely dissolves. Add the shredded carrots right before serving. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.
- Fish sauce brands: Different brands of fish sauce vary by saltiness and intensity. You may need to adjust the amounts slightly to according to your taste. If you find it too salty, add more water and sugar. For a tangier sauce add more lime juice or vinegar.
- For a vegan/vegetarian option: replace the fish sauce with: 1/8 cup water, 1/8 cup soy sauce, and a pinch of salt. If you add too much soy sauce, the flavor overwhelms the sauce so instead, add more sea salt until it’s seasoned properly.
- You can skip the vinegar and replace the amount with lime juice but I prefer adding a bit of vinegar because it gives the sauce a bright flavor that the lime juice lacks. The lime juice adds a nice citrus flavor but isn’t as tangy as vinegar.
- Storing leftovers: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
- Make ahead: If you plan on making this ahead, leave out the shredded carrots and store the sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Add the shredded carrots right before serving.
- Serve with these fresh vegetarian summer rolls.
- This recipe is featured in 3 Classic Spring Roll Dipping Sauces.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.