the ever-essential nuoc mam

Here’s our recipe for nuoc mam, the essential Vietnamese fish sauce that I use a lot. I can’t get enough of it. It’s nice to make a batch of this and have it in your fridge for later use… in any and everything.

In the restaurant we quadruple this recipe… we throw the solids in a Cuisinart and slowly pour in the liquids. At home, I like to finely dice everything and keep the nuoc mam in mason jars. It’ll last forever, I think, but after a week the garlic and jalapeños are pickled and have a different flavor. It’s not bad. It just changes. Like us. Food is alive!

Also, it’s important what kind of fish sauce you use. Thai fish sauce tends to be too salty, so I’ll use an ounce or two less plus a pinch extra sugar and more. I like the Vietnamese stuff better.

The one on the left is one of my personal favorites.

2 jalapeños, finely diced

2 Tbsp garlic, minced

1 C. fish sauce

1/2 C. brown sugar

1 C. rice vinegar

juice of 2 limes

Whisk together until sugar dissolves.

I use this in the papaya salad, any kind of vermicelli and herb salad with shrimp or barbequed pork, and it’s essential in my grilled fish skewers with coconut milk (which my friend Johnny and I had for dinner tonight), and of course bahn mi (the ever-so-delicious Vietnamese sandwiches). It’s everywhere. We’ll have to start a page solely dedicated to Nuoc Mam.

3 Replies to “the ever-essential nuoc mam”

  1. Very good. I didn’t get it right away until I saw the mutton stand from Bit a’ Hochee. This is a good format. Gotta run out and get some fish sauce and Jalapenos!

  2. “It’s not bad. It just changes. Like us. Food is alive!” — that is so great! 🙂 Looking forward to some of your pickling knowledge in the “prep” section up there!

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