the appetizer:

Vietnamese cuisine is divided into three regions: North, heavily influenced by China; South, more influenced by the French; and Central, spicier and more complex than cooking in the northern or southern regions of Vietnam. A typical meal might include roasted meat or fish, stir-fry vegetables, rice, soup, and fish and soy sauces.

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Nuoc Cham Fish Sauce  


Nuoc Cham (Chili, Garlic, and Fish Sauce)

Piquant dips do double duty as condiments and seasonings in Vietnamese cooking. The base for these is always nuoc mam and you can add ingredients such as lime juice, chopped chilies, chopped nuts, spring onions, fried garlic, ginger and fresh herbs such as coriander, sweet basil, and mint.

4 red chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sugar
2 limes, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp vinegar
5 tbsp nuoc mam (fish sauce)

Remove stalks from chilies and de-seed if you want a milder dip, though this defeats the purpose of nuoc cham. Pound garlic in a pestle and add chilies one by one, processing until you get a fine paste. Add sugar and lime pieces and pound to a pulp. Remove to a small sauce bowl and add water, vinegar, and fish sauce. Mix well and serve. Variations on the sauce can include chopped coriander, chopped ginger, pineapple, and any fresh herbs.

A Little Vietnamese Cookbook
by Terry Tan
Illustrations by Sherry Tan
Chronicle Books
ISBN 0-8118-0799-1
Reprinted by permission.


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This page modified January 2007