Nuoc Mam Ot (Spicy Fish Sauce)

By : | 7 Comments | On : January 3, 2012 | Category : Sauces












“Staple sauce of the Vietnamese culture as a dip and sauce for many appetizers and entrees. Can also be referred to as nuoc cham (dip sauce)”

Cindy says:  This is Toan’s Famous Nuoc Mam Recipe.  It’s definitely “legit” as his family is from Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam and fish sauce in Phu Quoc is like Wine to Napa Valley :)  Well…..a little less glamorous but Nuoc Mam is used in almost every Vietnamese dish I know and has started to become a trend in American cooking as well.  Sometimes I’ve been known to add a splash to Spaghetti, Risotto, Stir Fry….anything that needs a salty/sweet kick when no other seasonings will do.

Serve over grilled meats, eggs, salad, egg rolls, etc.  I’ll refer to this often as a dipping sauce for many dishes.  Other dishes will use the regular Nuoc Mam from the bottle mainly for marinades.


Main Meat or Ingredient: Fish Sauce
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Servings: Depends on the meal it is being used for 


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup fish sauce (Three Crab Brand – Viet Huong is our favorite but Squid Brand is ok too)
  • 6-8 cloves of fresh garlic
  • Chili Garlic Sauce (By Huy Fong Foods)
  • 2 limes (juicy lime) or 3-4 limes if dry lime.
  • 1-2 hot peppers (optional for non spicy eaters);  the Vietnamese peppers are often referred to as Vietnamese Tear Jerkers and according to google, I think it’s this:  C.Frutescens  if you want to plant them.
Often you can find the jar of chili and the fish sauce at Kroger or your local large grocery stores in the “Asian” aisle now.  I’ve attached links to amazon so you can see the brand.


  1. Find a medium size bowl for the sauce mixture
  2. In a small pot, put in sugar and water. Set on medium until it starts to boil. Then set heat on very low and stir occasionally to make sure the all of the sugar dissolves. Once it completely dissolves, turn off heat and let cool while you prepare the rest.
  3. Mince up your garlic and place in the bowl
  4. Squeeze out the limes into the same medium bowl
  5. Add a tablespoon of the Chili Garlic Sauce into the bowl
  6. Dice and add hot peppers (Optional)
  7. Add ½ cup of fish sauce and stir all contents
  8. Finally add the sugar water mix and stir completely.

Additional Notes:
Everyone’s taste buds tend to like their sauce a different way after learning how to eat this sauce. Below are things you can do to adjust the flavor of this mixture to your liking. I like mine more salty and spicy so I add more fish sauce and more chili. Yum!

  • If you like your sauce sweeter, put less water or fish sauce
  • If you like it saltier, add more fish sauce
  • If you like it more sour, add more lime juice
  • If you like it spicier, add more chili.

I would advise you to store this in a “jar-like” container to make it easier to clean and wash. It can be refrigerated to make it last at least 1-2 months. I usually make a new batch every month since it doesn’t really last in our household.

Toan Tran (Credit goes to my mom)





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