Everyday Dipping Sauce Recipe

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Appetizers, Snacks, Dips, Salsas and Spreads: Dips

Everyday Dipping Sauce

This sauce appears on the table at most Vietnamese meals. A little bit sweet, a tad salty, pleasantly tangy, and gently spicy, it makes a pleasing refrain to the music that is Vietnamese food. Add a small handful of shredded carrots and you have a vegetable relish as well as a dipping sauce.


  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce or finely chopped fresh hot red chilies (or 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


  1. Combine the garlic, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce, chilies, or flakes in the bowl of a mortar and mash to a paste. (Or combine them on your cutting board and mash to a coarse paste using a fork and the back of a spoon.)
  2. Scrape the paste into a small bowl and stir in the fish sauce, water, and lime juice. Stir well to dissolve sugar.
  3. Transfer to small serving bowls for dipping. Or transfer to a jar, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

About 1/2 cup

Nutritional Information:
Per tablespoon: 20 calories, 1.4 g protein, 3.5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 510 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 4%.

Source: Vietnamese Cooking Made Easy by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books, 2005). Reprinted with permission.

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Reviewed on 10/9/2006

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