Nước Chấm (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)

Nước chấm is a general name for a variety of Vietnamese dipping sauces with a sweet, sour, salty, savory, and spicy taste, depending on the recipe. Nước chấm is a frequent accompaniment for Vietnamese dishes such as chả giò, (spring rolls), gỏi cuốn (rice paper rolls), bún (rice noodles, topped with meat, poultry, eggs, seafood or vegetables), and many more.

This recipe is a fairly typical nước mắm pha (mixed fish sauce) -style nước chấm, and uses lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and water, spiked with a bit of garlic and chili. You can also make a vegetarian version of nước chấm, called nước chấm chay (“vegetarian sauce”) or nước tương (“soy water”) by substituting Maggi seasoning sauce for the fish sauce.


  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped red bird’s-eye chili
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce


Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add two tablespoons of water and stir until the sugar has dissolved.