Cookbook Profile

Peanut Dipping Sauce
Nuoc Leo (Vietnam)

Editor's Note: Also see Vietnamese Condiments.


Throughout Southeast Asia, there are many recipes for peanut sauce, but the Vietnamese version is the lightest one I have ever tasted. It seems that you can have the authentic one only in Vietnam or at home. Most of the time in Vietnamese restaurants, peanut butter is mixed with hoisin sauce and some ground peanuts are tossed in. The result is very pasty and not very refined. This peanut sauce is true to the original in Vietnam, being fluid and light. The secret is the chicken stock, which lightens the sauce and allows you to taste all the ingredients.


Makes about 2 cups

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 or more bird's eye or Thai chilies,
   seeded and minced
3 ounces unsalted roasted peanuts,
   1 tablespoon chopped, the rest finely ground
   (but not butter)
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar


1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir-fry the garlic and chilies until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the ground peanuts and stir until they give up some of their natural oil, about 5 minutes more.

2. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and sugar, and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the oil from the peanuts starts surfacing, about 15 minutes. Transfer sauce to a heatproof serving bowl, garnish with chopped peanuts, and serve.


Authentic Vietnamese Cooking
Food from a Family Table

By Corinne Trang
Simon & Schuster, December 1999
Hardback, $30.00
256 pages, more then 50 black & white photographs
Glossary of ingredients
ISBN: 0-684-86444-4
Recipe reprinted by permission.


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Modified August 2007