How to Make Fish Sauce, Dipping Sauce (Nước Chấm)

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Dipping sauce or fish sauce is a recipe that goes with almost every Vietnamese dish. It enhances the taste of the dish. To make yummy fish sauce, it depends on what kind of fish sauce you buy, and how you taste it. It should have enough sour, sweet, spicy, and salty. Use the ingredient section as a guide, and increase or reduce it to best taste.


1 red chili
2 cloves Garlic
1 cup sugar
5 limes or lemons
2 cup water
1 cup Fish sauce

You can find fish sauce in any Asian or farmer market. Look for ‘Phú Quốc’ or ‘3 Con Cua’
Pestle and mortar can be found in Asian market as well.
You can use blender instead of pestle and mortar to pound chili and garlic.


  1. Blend or fine chop chili.
  2. Blend or fine chop garlic
  3. Remove lemon’s seeds, get juice
  4. Add water and sugar in a small pan and boil. Stir it so sugar well blends into water.
  5. When the mixture is boiled, set aside to let it cool down to room temp.
  6. Then add lemon juice, chili, garlic.
  7. Taste it to make sure it has enough of 4 tastes: sour, sweet, spicy and salty. Adjust the taste as needed
  8. You may want to make fish sauce using water bottle instead of water from tap because water from tap may has chemical that does not make fish sauce taste well.
    You can wear gloves when chopping chili otherwise do not touch your eye.
  9. There are variants of  fish sauce or dipping sauce recipe, but this is simple to me. Since we boil sugar and water, we can keep fish sauce in a bottle and keep it in refrigerator for later use.

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