Lime and Garlic Dipping Sauce

Nước Chấm

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


Appears in

Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore

Southeast Asian Flavors

By Robert Danhi

Published 2008

  • About

Nước chấm is the most essential Vietnamese table condiment. It’s a staple dipping sauce that is always at the ready to provide its fresh, salty and slightly sour accent to salad rolls (goi cuon), to pour over some noodles and grilled pork, or simply place on the table as a condiment to perk up dishes that are missing that Umami kick, chili bite and citrus zest.

Every lime varies slightly in acidity. Chili heat varies. We all perceive taste differently (really!). The flavor of ingredients like limes is not consistent; sometimes they’re more acidic than others. So adjust the flavors to suit yourself and your guests. Taste often and adjust as needed to achieve a balance of color, aromas, tastes, and textures.


  • 1 to 2 Thai bird chilies
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Granulated sugar
  • ½ cup Warm water
  • 3 tbsp. Lime juice with pulp
  • ¼ cup Fish sauce (nước mắm)
  • 1 tbsp. Finely shredded carrots (optional)


  1. Cut one of chili into the thinnest rings possible; set aside for garnish. Mince the remaining chili.
  2. Transfer minced chilies to a bowl, add the garlic, sugar, water, lime juice and fish sauce. Whisk until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Add the reserved chili and carrots. Set aside for 10 minutes to let the flavors marry before tasting and adjusting seasoning.