This handy Vietnamese sauce does double duty as a dip for fried foods and a dressing for cold salads, such as this one with grilled shrimp. The sauce is a perfect balance of tangy and sweet, with fish-sauce umami and a little spike of heat. To tone down the fire, seed the chiles before mincing. For more intensity, double the amount of fish sauce and omit the water.

  • Yields: 1 1/3 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 5 mins 
  • Active: 5 mins 

Ingredients (6)

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 2 small Thai chiles, stemmed and minced


  1. In a small bowl, mix the lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the garlic and chiles and serve.