Nuoc Cham (Seasoned fish sauce)

Fish sauce is “nuoc mam,” but seasoned fish sauce is “nuoc cham.” It’s addictive, and a must for any Vietnamese meal. To make it efficiently, you need a mortar and pestle.

1/2 lime and it’s juice

1 clove garlic, peeled

8 tsp sugar

1 tsp sambal oelek (red chili paste, found in most Asian groceries)

2 T fish sauce

1/3rd cup hot water

Cut the lime in half around the circumference, then (holding it over the mortar) use a sharp knife to section one half the lime as you would a grapefriut. Cut out the “meat” and add with the juice to the mortar. Add the garlic and the sugar and mash everything to a paste (the granulated sugar helps absorb the lime juice and aids in mashing). Add the sambal oelek and the fish sauce and mix, then add the hot water and stir. Taste, and add more lime juice, fish sauce or sambal oelek to taste, if desired. Transfer to a small serving bowl, or, if you wish, to individual bowls.

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