International Recipes

Nuoc Cham (Vietnam)

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  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small, hot, red chile pepper, seeds and membranes removed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 fresh lime, juice and pulp only
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce*
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water, according to taste

* Also known as nuoc mam, it is available in finer supermarkets and Asian specialty shops.

Purists insist that the garlic and chili pepper be ground together in a mortar and pestle, although acceptable results can be obtained by processing all the ingredients in a food processor. The traditional procedure is as follows:


  1. Combine the garlic and chile pepper in a mortar and mash with the pestle until a paste is formed.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice into the paste, then remove the pulp from the lime and add it to the mixture.
  3. Mash to a paste again, and add the fish sauce and water, stirring to combine.

Makes about 1/2 cup to serve 4 to 6