Nuoc Mam Chua (sweet and sour)

Makes 1 litre Prep Time 10 minutes   Cook Time 5 minutes   Rated:

Have you ever wondered about how fish sauce is made? (You may not want to read this next bit if that has never crossed your mind!)

Fish and salt are mixed at a ratio of 25-33% in a vessel made of wood, ceramic, or cement depending on the local custom...The traditional method involves fermentation for 12-18 months. Nowadays, fermentation time is shortened to six months by addition of enzymes from external sources. Anchovy [cá cơm] is the most commonly used fish for making nước mắm. Temperature for fermentation and hydrolysis is in the range of 35-50 degrees Celsius. Can you imagine working in that factory and coming home?? YIKES.

This sauce is a signature dipping sauce as varied through Vietnamese households as curry pastes are throughout India or jerk spice mixes are through Jamaica and all based on the very amazing fish sauce that the family may or may not produce on their own. There are first presses, second presses and so on. Virgin fish sauce is a thing! Anyway, no dish in Vietnam is complete without some of this on the side. This is Jenny Lams version!

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Place chilli and garlic into a processor and blitz until finely minced.


Place the remaining ingredients, except fish sauce, in a pot and cook on the stove over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.


Turn off the heat and stir through the chilli-garlic mixture and fish sauce while the mixture is still hot.


Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Served with

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