Vietnamese Fish Sauce in Dipping Bowl

Vietnamese Fish Sauce for Dipping

I just love a good dipping sauce for everything from wings to fresh spring rolls. As a super-fan of Asian cuisine and buoyed by a false sense of self-confidence after witnessing the popularity of my Vegan Somen Salad Recipe, I decided I needed to tackle a Simple Vietnamese Fish Sauce for Dipping that would be the perfect complement to any number of my upcoming seasonal recipes.

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First off, I would like to say that this Vietnamese Fish Sauce recipe was inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers – Hungry Huy – and his excellent recipe for a Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.

Naturally, I didn’t want to simply copy his recipe (even though that may have tasted better than what I came up with – LOL!), so I put my ‘food blogger spin’ on Bryan’s relatively simple recipe by changing the proportions and adding one VERY unusual ingredient (keep reading below to see what it is).


Let me know what you think in the comments below!

But before we get to my recipe…

Why Is Everyone So Confused About Fish Sauce?

I think the reason is in the name – or maybe it’s partly in the translation from Vietnamese to English – either way, I think the confusion is because the dipping sauce that each of these recipes explains how to make, is sometimes simply called fish sauce.

The distinction is that, according to Wikipedia, “Fish sauce is a liquid condiment made from fish or krill that have been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years….

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So, Is This A recipe For Fish Sauce or A Dipping Sauce?

This recipe is for a dipping sauce. This recipe and those that other food bloggers describe, certainly INCLUDE the pre-made liquid condiment called fish sauce, but this recipe and the other ‘fish sauce’ recipes you read online are, technically, recipes for dipping sauces.


Now that we got that out of the way…

How Long Did You Say It Takes to Make Fish Sauce?

Since it can take up to two full years for the salted fish used in actual fish sauce to ferment, I don’t think you would be pleased if the recipe I shared with you would take that long to prepare!

Could you imagine if I told you that the Prep Time for today’s recipe was TWO YEARS!??!! You would never come back here! (And I want you to keep coming back…)

Vietnamese Fish Sauce in Dipping Bowl

Is Fish Sauce the Same Thing as Fish Oil?

Another point of confusion also may stem from the similarity in names between fish sauce and fish oil. We went into detail above about what fish sauce is, but what is fish oil?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Fish oil is a dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids for many functions, from muscle activity to cell growth…”

Many people take fish oil supplements like these for their health benefits.

But to answer the question above: No, fish sauce and fish oil are NOT the same thing!

Do you Serve Fish Sauce for Dipping Hot or Cold?

I serve my dipping sauce cold. In fact, I like to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This helps all of the flavors of the chili peppers, garlic and my surprise ingredient meld together, nicely!

How Long Does Fish Sauce Last?

I try to eat it within 24-48 hours, but it can last several days if refrigerated

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What You Need

This is a simple dipping sauce recipe, requiring very few ingredients.

1 Whole Lime (Fresh)

3 Dried Chili Peppers – you can substitute fresh chili peppers if you can get them

2 Tablespoons of Son Premium Fish Sauce

1 Pinch of Goya Minced Garlic

3 Tablespoons of Sugar

2 Slices Fresh Apricot (SURPRISE!)

7 Tablespoons Water (approximate)

My Favorite Foods to Eat With Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce

Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

My Easy Grilled Shrimp Kabobs


Unseasoned Chicken Wings

Grilled Pork

Asian Noodles

Egg Rolls

Vietnamese Fish Sauce for Dipping

Recipe by Bill
5.0 from 3 votes
Course: Sauces, SidesCuisine: VietnameseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





This is my take on a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham), using simple, fresh ingredients, as well as a small amount of the typical fish sauce liquid condiment made from fermented fish.

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By combining sweet, tart, and savory ingredients, this dipping sauce has a complete flavor profile that I think will appeal to a lot of people.

The liquid Fish Sauce I used for this recipe was Son Premium Fish Sauce (you can see what the bottle looks like in one of the earlier photos above this recipe). Another popular brand of concentrated fish sauce that is used by other bloggers is Three Crabs Viet Huong Fish Sauce.

Liquid fish sauce can be quite strong so even though this recipe calls for two tablespoons of actual fish sauce, start with one and add and taste as you go.

You absolutely want to use a citrus fruit, like a lime, to counterbalance the sweetness of the sugar, as well.



  • Combine 7 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the juice from a freshly squeezed lime in a small pot.
  • Heat the sugar/water/lime juice mixture over high heat on your stove top, stirring all the while so that the sugar dissolves completely into the water. (Note: Heating IS optional, but heating this mixture helps the sugar dissolve nicely into the water/lime juice concentrate)
  • At this point, I chill the dipping sauce mixture for about 30 minutes (only required if you chose to do Step 2 Above and heat your liquid). Other Vietnamese dipping sauce recipes don’t suggest heating the mixture and, therefore, don’t require this step.
  • Remove your dipping bowl from the refrigerator.
  • Add two tablespoons of your favorite premium fish sauce to the mixture (Note: I add one tablespoon of fish sauce at a time, stir vigorously, taste, and then add the next tablespoon of fish sauce.
  • Drop in 1 pinch of minced garlic and continue to stir vigorously. Taste as you go in case you want to add more garlic, but please note that the combination of fish sauce and garlic can produce some strong flavors. Delicious, but strong!
  • Slice dried chili peppers and drop them on top of the dipping sauce that is now taking shape. I like to also drop in the chili pepper seeds, which may be a little unique, but I do like strong flavors.
  • (Optional) Finally take 2 slices of fresh apricot and drop into your Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce. WHAT DID YOU SAY? Yes, the cool, semi-sweet flavor of the apricot slices infuse very nicely with the strong and powerful flavors of the other ingredients. After chilling your ‘sauce’ overnight, the flavor profile really begins to take shape!
  • Vietnamese Fish Sauce in Dipping Bowl


  • Feel free to add your favorite brand of fish sauce to your sugar/water/lime juice mixture. But add it one tablespoon at a time (and remember to taste as you go)
  • I used dried chili peppers in this recipe and also dropped in the seeds. This will add some extra heat to your dipping sauce. Feel free to use fresh sliced chili peppers and experiment with adding/not adding the seeds.
  • I added a non-traditional ingredient to my ‘Vietnamese’ Dipping Fish Sauce – Apricot Slices (SURPRISE). This had a more dramatic effect on the flavor after 24 hours in the refrigerator than I anticipated – in a good way!
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Looking For Other Dipping Sauce Recipes By

Please check out my Quick Gyoza Dipping Sauce – it is perfect for dipping pot stickers into or even fresh spring rolls.

And – if you like Asian cuisine as much as I do, please check out my Best Gochujang Substitute recipe – I think it tastes like the real thing!

Did You Like This Vietnamese Fish Sauce For Dipping Recipe?

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  1. Awesome dipping sauce recipe. Your ‘secret’ ingredient really gives it a unique flavor. Your photo could use some work, though! Lol….

  2. Thanks for the compliment on my dipping sauce recipe! And I have to agree with you about the photo – I am still learning about what makes a good food photo and I think I took this picture of my Vietnamese dipping sauce a bit too close-up. This blog/adventure is still a work in progress!

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