Fish Sauce Vinaigrette

Fish sauce, or nuoc mam, is a master Vietnamese sauce used both as seasoning and as a dipping sauce. Chang says his fish sauce vinaigrette is lighter and sweeter than traditional fish sauce, but I’d have to disagree. The sauce is sweeter, but I found that it had more of a fish sauce flavour than more traditional fish sauces I’ve tasted.

water, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime, red bird's eye chilies, garlic, sugar

Everyone has different spice tolerance and ever since I’ve been married to Mike (who’s Vietnamese), I’ve found my spice tolerance go way up. I remember eating dinner at his parents’ place early on in our relationship. We were having grilled beef wrapped in rice paper and there was a big bowl of nuoc mam on the table for dipping and I kid you not, the sauce was a sea of red chili peppers. It was hot, but when Mike’s mom asked if it was good, all I could do was whimper out a “yes” while my eyes were watering from the red chilies. Eating spicy food is like building up your alcohol tolerance; have a little at a time and soon, it takes a lot more to get your tongue burning or your head spinning.

slicing up chilies

Everybody makes their fish sauce differently, so it’s easy to make it to taste. Combine fish sauce, water, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, minced garlic and sliced red bird’s eye chilies. Chang’s recipe tells you to just combine everything in a jar, but I usually see Vietnamese people use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic and chilies.

fish sauce vinaigrette

Fish sauce vinaigrette is a simple, yet complex robust sauce good on almost any meat, but especially good on grilled meat or seafood. Fish sauce is spicy, sweet and addictive.

13 Comments add yours

  1. I made Chang’s fish sauce vinaigrette for the brussels sprouts, and man was it good. Next time I’ll make a vat so that I have a good supply on hand at a moment’s notice.

    Maggie,
    Mmm…fish sauce on brussels sprouts…I must do that recipe soon! Vats of fish sauce in the fridge is a good thing, it only gets better with age!

    steph on February 15th, 2010 at 12:55 pm
  2. Fantastic, I would like you to say me where can I buy this recipient of 200 ml, I don’t know where, online, I live in Spain.
    Thanks
    Ana

    Ana,
    You can find the beakers here http://www.labdepotinc.com/ under glassware/beakers. I bought mine at a store here in Vancouver, so not sure if they’re absolutely the same, but I think it’s close!

    steph on February 15th, 2010 at 12:58 pm
  3. I have recently been on a Vietnamese food kick.Great stuff! I think they have this sauce on the tables at the restaurant.

    Ed,
    I am obsessed with Vietnamese food. The flavours are so fresh and addictive!

    steph on February 15th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
  4. Mmm, fish sauce. It really only takes five minutes to make, and I like it even better than peanut sauce on my spring rolls.

    Also, is that first photo the actual Momofuku ingredients ratio? That’s a lot of sugar!

    Bruce!
    Yeah, Chang uses a LOT of sugar, I was surprised. Who eats peanut sauce with spring rolls?! Fish sauce rocks!

    steph on February 15th, 2010 at 1:03 pm
  5. Do you have to use unseasoned rice wine vinegar for this? I used seasoned (all I could find) and the resulting vinaigrette was way too salty. I do have some unseasoned rice vinegar though. Is that an acceptable substitute?

    Sarah,
    You can use unseasoned rice vinegar or, if you don’t like the tang of the vinegar, you can just leave it out. Fish sauce is to tastes, so play around and see what you like!

    steph on February 18th, 2010 at 1:56 pm
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