Vietnamese dipping sauces
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) graces the tables at most Vietnamese meals. There are hundreds of dipping sauce recipes from North to South Vietnam. Recipes depend on local preferences and personal tastes. Each region has its favorite dipping sauces, each household has her own recipes. Most of Vietnamese dipping sauces are made from Nuoc mam (Fish sauce), Mam tom (Fermented shrimp paste), Mam nem (Fermented fish paste), Mam ruoc (Fermented acetes paste), Tuong dau nanh (Fermented soybean), Mam tom chua (Pickled shrimp sauce).
Nuoc mam – Dipping fish sauce
A wide range of Fish sauce branches in Vietnam
Fish sauce dip is one of the most popular Vietnamese dipping sauces. Recipes are various, fish sauce dips are usually. Vietnamese people usually dip fishes/shrimp/meat of soups, hot pot dishes in raw fish sauce topped with chili slices. Sweet and sour fish sauce dip made from fish sauce, garlic, lemon juice, sugar (coconut water) and chili (optional). This sauce is a must to eat famous Vietnamese spring rolls, Vietnamese pancakes, Broken rice, boiled meat, grilled dishes… Fish sauce dip with tamarind is the best choice to eat grilled dry foods, grilled dishes, seafood dishes… To eat duck dishes, snail dishes, Vietnamese people make sweet fish sauce dip with ginger.
Sweet and sour fish sauce dip with pickles
Sweet, sour and spicy fish sauce dip – a must to eat Broken rice
Mam tom – Dipping sauce from fermented shrimp paste
Fermented shrimp paste
Vietnamese people ground fresh shrimps and wine, then mix them with salt and save in jars for about 6 months to receive Mam tom. In fact, Mam tom is more popular in North Vietnam than South and Central Vietnam. They beat raw fermented shrimp paste with lemon juice/vinegar, add garlic, chili, sugar at their wishes to make a special sauce. This is a perfect sauce to eat with eggplant, fried tofu, boiled organ meats, dog meat, Bun rieu (Crab rice noodle soup), Bun oc (Rice noodle soup with snail)… It’s the soul of famous Bun dau mam tom (Rice noodles with Fermented shrimp paste) – a specialty food of Hanoi capital.
Rice noodles with Fermented shrimp paste
Mam nem – Dipping sauce from fermented fish paste
Fermented fish paste
Mam nem originated in Central Vietnam where there are a lot of flavorful foods. Vietnamese cooks usually mix/cook raw fermented fish paste with pineapple and spices to make dipping sauce. It’s great sauce to serve with boiled pork, rice noodles, rice vermicelli sheets, wet cake… Dipping Mam nem is the key of some specialty foods in Central Vietnam such as Danang roll with pork, Hue pork patties.
Sauce form fermented fish paste and minced pineapple
Danang roll with pork
Mam ruoc – Dipping sauce from Fermented acetes paste
Fermented acetes paste
Acetes is a genus of small shrimp. Fermented acetes paste’s taste and smell is different from Fermented shrimp paste. While Fermented shrimp paste is favorite of people in North Vietnam, Fermented acetes paste is favorite of those living in Central and South Vietnam. They cook raw Mam ruoc with minced lemongrass, salt, sugar and chili (optional) to make an amazing sauce. Sauce from Mam ruoc is eaten with green mango, boiled pork, steamed rice…
Tuong – Dipping sauce from Fermented soybean
In North Vietnam, Tuong ban – a kind of Fermented soybean is a great sauce to dip boiled vegetables, burnt calf. In South Vietnam, they mix, ground and cook mix of Fermented soybean, coconut milk, steamed sticky rice, garlic, sugar to make a dipping sauce. Tuong sauce couldn’t be missed to eat Vietnamese spring roll, Bo bia, grilled pork patties, grilled beef with saute… It’s better to top the sauce with carrot pickles and peanuts. In Central Vietnam, they ground and cook the mix of Fermented soybean and liver to make special sauce and use it to dip grilled pork patties.
Vietnamese spring roll and Fermented soybean dip
Mam tom chua (Pickled shrimp sauce)
Ingredients of Mam tom chua is shrimp, galangal, garlic, chili, wine, fish sauce and sugar. They mix Pickled shrimp with shredded green papaya, chili (optional) and sugar to make a flavorful sweet, sour and hot sauce. People in Mekong Delta usually dip boiled pork, vegetables and herbs Pickled shrimp sauce and eat with steamed rice or rice noodles. We also wrap boiled pork, vegetables, herbs and rice noodles in rice paper, then dip in Pickled shrimp sauce and eat.
Chao (Fermented bean curd sauce)
Fermented bean curd sauce
Although Chao isn’t as popular as other sauces in Vietnamese cuisine, it’s a favorite sauce of Vietnamese people, especially vegetarians. It’s easy to make a sauce from Chao, just add spices and cook for a few minutes. There’s nothing better than dip boiled vegetables in Fermented bean curd sauce and eat with steamed rice. In addition, Chao is the best sauce for grilled goat meat, hot pot with goat, salads with fish…
Most of Vietnamese dipping sauces are special and strange to many foreigners, especially Western people. These sauces haven’t good smell like ketchup, mayonaise and soy sauce… However, they play important parts in Vietnamese cuisine. Sauces add flavors and smell to almost Vietnamese dishes. A trip to Vietnam is complete without enjoying authentic dishes with special Vietnamese dishes.