Sweet, Sour and Spicy Fish Sauce

Sweet, Sour and Spicy Fish Sauce Recipe



Sweet, Sour and Spicy Fish Sauce

The ubiquitous table condiment of Vietnam, this sauce is present at virtually every meal. It features lime juice, fish sauce and sugar, spiced with garlic and chilies. The level of spiciness depends on how these two latter ingredients are prepared.

Ingredients: (Makes about 500 ml/18 fl oz)

  • 175 g/6 fl oz fish sauce
  • 100 ml/3½ oz palm sugar or granulated sugar
  • 175 ml/6 fl oz freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed, sliced or finely chopped
  • 1-2 red bird’s eye chilies, deseeded and halved, or thinly sliced into rounds


  • Put the fish sauce and sugar in a non-reactive bowl and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved in the fish sauce.
  • Add the lime juice, garlic and chilies. Leave to stand for 20 minutes before serving.


There are as many versions of Nuoc Cham as there are cooks. Some like the sauce salty, some like it sour and some like it sweet. It can also be mild or spicy. Adjust the sauce according to personal taste. The more garlic and chilies are broken down, the spicier the sauce will be. To make a mild sauce, do make sure to crush, not finely chop, the garlic, and halve the chili pod rather than slicing it into thin rounds.