Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Vegetarian Mock Fish Sauce)

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Vegetarian Mock Fish Sauce) Recipe

If you like seasoning your Asian dishes such as bánh xèo and bì cuốn chay (fresh spring rolls) with the typical Vietnamese condiment called nước mắm but find it too strong to your taste or simply if you're a vegetarian, this recipe is for you. The vegetarian equivalent is called nước chấm.

I use lemon-flavored soy sauce as a main ingredient but there is a new product called nước mắm chay available in Asian stores. It gets a "sea" flavor from the addition of seaweed to the product.

It is also a nice addition to Asian soups like my sweet and sour pineapple soup.  Just serve it on the side and let your guests add as much (or as little) as they like.  In Vietnam, this sauce, or its fish-based equivalent, is as common on the dinner table as a salt shaker is in the West.


Yields: 4

4 tablespoons soy sauce or vegetarian fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
5 tablespoons boiling water
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons lime juice with pulp, freshly squeezed
4 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons red Thai chili pepper, finely chopped, to taste


In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in the boiling water. Let the water cool to room temperature. Add the rice vinegar, lime juice and soy sauce or vegetarian fish sauce. Mix in the garlic and chili pepper.

Your condiment is ready to serve.



If you like, you can add pickled daikon radish, carrots and coarsely crushed peanuts before serving.

I use Ponzu brand soy sauce; it's perfect as a dipping sauce. It's lemony and less salty than regular soy sauce.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 28, 2009.


[-] Love this - Guest-ChefE
Not sure if I mentioned I love your site! I want one like this, and did you do it yourself?

The food is out of this world, so you can bet I will be making this sauce, but I need brown sugar! I will be doing it...

Chef E Website Link
[ Posted at 9:24 AM on 7/28/09 | Reply ]
[-] Great idea! - Guest-Phil105
This is not only a great alternative for vegetarians, but also a good suggestion for those who would shy away from anything with the words "fish sauce" in it. I know, people are strange.

I really appreciate how you bring Vietnamese cuisine into our kitchens with ease. Sometimes, certain cuisines just look unattainable, but you make it look very manageable.

Phil Website Link
[ Posted at 9:59 AM on 7/28/09 | Reply ]
[-] good looking recipe - Guest-OysterCulture
This sounds like a delicious alternative, and I'll have to give it a try sometime, unfortunately in my neighborhood - here in San Francisco, I am spoiled for choice where Asian sauces are concerned, and am a bit lazy

OysterCulture Website Link
[ Posted at 3:42 PM on 7/29/09 | Reply ]
This is so great! I always have just used soy sauce when fish sauce is called for, but I know a depth of flavor is lacking. Thanks so much for posting this!

Dana Website Link
[ Posted at 8:33 AM on 7/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Lime! - Guest-Jamie
Yum! This is a great, flavorful dip to serve with almost anything, I say! And as far as BSI Limes go, I think this is great!

Jamie Website Link
[ Posted at 8:38 AM on 8/8/09 | Reply ]
Yum! This is a great, flavorful dip to serve with almost anything, I say! And as far as BSI Limes go, I think this is great!

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[ Posted at 5:23 PM on 12/9/12 | Reply ]

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