Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nuoc cham chay - vegetarian Vietnamese sauce

This vegetarian version of nuoc cham is made with soy sauce and is really delicious - you'll be surprised how close it tastes to the traditional version with fish sauce!

As with all sauces, you can season to your own taste - it should be salty and sweet and garlicky - add water to make it a little milder if you feel it's too strong.  Also, if you're getting too much of a tang from the vinegar and lime sauce, add a little water as well - you may need to balance it out with a little more sugar or soy sauce.

Nuoc cham chay
- vegetarian Vietnamese dipping sauce 

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/4 cup vinegar 
  • 1 cup hot water 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 lime, freshly squeezed, more to taste 
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced, or you can press through a garlic press 
  • 2 teaspoons tuong ot, chili paste, or fresh chilies, finely chopped, to taste

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, heat water in the microwave (or in a tea kettle or small saucepan on stovetop), until it’s pretty hot. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Let it cool off. Add the vinegar, lime juice and soy sauce. Mix in the garlic and chili pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Does it taste too strong? Dillute with a little more water.
Do you want a little more kick? Add a little more chili paste.
Is it too sweet? Start by adding a little more lime juice or vinegar, then add soy sauce to balance.
Does it taste too sour? Add a little more sugar and soy sauce, and maybe a little more water to balance it all out.


  1. I just made this sauce tonight! Thanks! It was tasty with my bun bi chay.

  2. Great - glad you liked it! How do you make your bun bi chay? Sounds so good right now!