Vietnamese food without this dressing/sauce is like Luke Skywalker without a lightsabre: lame! It’s a vital and versatile condiment that can be used in many ways.
You’ll find this sauce served in every Vietnamese restaurant worldwide. It’s especially great with the recipes on Day 13: Old Saigon Spring Rolls, Day 28: Squidgy’s Patties, and Day 6: Smoking La Lot Beef Wraps. OR just use as a dressing to spice up any salad.
Some people (mentioning no names) have been known to eat plain boiled rice covered with this sauce alone!
Here’s a quick video showing you how to make this fabulous sauce!
- enough to serve 6 people
- 3 lemons or limes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 red bird’s eye chillies
- 8 heaped tablespoons white sugar
- 500ml warm water
- 5 tablespoon fish sauce
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Small bowl
- Pestle & mortar
- Preparation—15 minutes
- Add sugar into a bowl and add then warm water. Stir to dissolve.
- Peel and chop garlic and chillies into small slices, then place in mortar and crush into a fine paste. (It takes about 10 minutes.)
- Squeeze the juice from three lemons (remove pips) and pour into the mortar.
- Pour and stir the contents of the mortar into the dissolved sugar water.
- Add and stir the fish sauce to the mixture.
- Taste the dressing. It should be a nice balance of salt, sweet, sour and spice.
- Serve immediately or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
- This dressing can be adjusted to suit your own taste by adding more lemon, fish sauce, garlic and chilli.
- For Vegetarians, fish sauce can be replaced with salt or light soy sauce.
- In Step 2, the garlic and chilli must be ground into a very fine paste, so a little elbow grease is needed. At least 10 minutes of constant pounding!
- For the lazy—for heaven’s sake, when adjusting the taste of the dressing do not use the same spoon once it been in your mouth!