Traditionally, this sauce is made by pounding garlic, chili peppers and sugar with a mortar and pestle to form a thick paste. Then the liquid is mixed in to create a sauce.
To change the yield of this recipe, use this formula: 1 part fish sauce, 1 part lime juice or vinegar, 1 part sugar and 2 parts water.
Make Ahead: This version tastes fresher with lime juice, but use vinegar and do not add the garlic, chili peppers and carrot (until just before serving) if you intend to store it. With vinegar, the sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a month or longer. You can always freshen the sauce with squirts of lime juice before subsequent uses.
Servings: 2.5 cups
- 1/2 cup fish sauce, or more to taste
- Freshly squeezed juice of 3 or 4 limes (1/2 cup; may substitute distilled white vinegar), or more to taste
- 1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
- 1 cup water
- Chopped garlic
- Red Thai bird chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut crosswise into thin slices
- Shredded carrot
- Shiitake-Noodle Salad
- Hanoi-Style Fried Fish With Turmeric and Dill (Cha Ca Thang Long)
- Vietnamese Chicken Salad
Combine the fish sauce and lime juice in medium bowl.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool, then add to the fish sauce mixture. Taste and adjust for sweetness, sourness and saltiness by adding sugar, lime juice or fish sauce.
If you will serve the sauce right away, add the garlic, Thai chili peppers and carrot to taste; otherwise, add those ingredients to taste just before serving. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Adapted from Washington writer Julie Wan.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.