Nuoc Mam (or fish sauce) is a standard condiment/dressing in southeast Asian cuisine. Indeed, it’s the bane of vegetarians existence when ordering in a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant since many sauces often have fish sauce in it.
The thing is, fish sauce is actually a very concentrated liquid that goes into making nuoc mam (which is Vietnamese; the Thai call it “Nam pla”). If you’re interested in the actual process of making fish sauce (which is kind of gross, as you might expect), this page has some information.
In any event, when my mother-in-law visits and makes nuoc mam, she always makes a separate batch for me that leaves the fish sauce out of the mixture. “Khong nuoc mam” is how to say “no fish sauce” in Vietnamese, so I figured I’d call this modified version, Khong Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce.
The taste is very similar and can be used in all the same ways regular fish sauce is used. Dip spring rolls in it, add it to curries, etc.
It tastes best if you can let it sit for a day before using it, but it’s also fine using it right away.
Huyen wrote to tell me: “The Vietnamese dipping sauce is actually called Nuoc Mam Cham (fish dipping sauce) which has the nuoc mam (fish sauce) in it. I think people just shorten it but the real fish sauce is raw and unmixed and rather yucky by itself. Hehe, here’s a pronunciation.
And since yours has soy sauce it would be called nuoc tuong cham (soy dipping sauce). Here are some different sauce recipes.
Hope that clarifies a little bit. I’m sure there are a million and one variations.”
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, mashed
- 1 cup Coco Rico (a coconut soda that can be found in many Latin and Asian grocery stores; it’s OK if you’re using flat Coco Rico you’ve had sitting around)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Maggi sauce, or to taste (standard soy sauce, tamrai, or shoyu can also be used)
- Pinch of dry hot pepper or 1 fresh hot red pepper, mashed
- Dash of MSG or MSG substitute (optional)
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- Juice of half or 1 whole lime
Mix everything together.
That was easy, no?
Source: VegBlog.org’s mother-in-law