Now that we’re also in the thick of summer, bright sauces featuring lots of fresh herbs and citrus and that can be served cold are my go-to. Today I'm going to focus on two sauces which I think are perfect to go with your next summer meal - ginger-scallion sauce and my herb-filled take on a Vietnamese nuoc cham (Nước chấm).
Let's dive in.
The second sauce I’m sharing is an herb-filled take on a Vietnamese Nuoc Cham (Nước chấm) - a salty-sweet-tangy dipping sauce found in Vietnamese restaurants and homes around the world. I originally served this with roast pork and rice, but it would be equally great with grilled chicken or even steak. The addition of lots of fresh cilantro makes this take on nuoc cham bright, fresh, and helps balance the pungent fish sauce. The sauce also keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge and continues to mellow over time, so you can make a batch and continue to spoon it on your favorite foods for days after - I even put some on fried rice and it was *chefs kiss*
Ok, so you may be thinking “that sounds gross” or just “Why???” - that is fair, especially if you’ve never had it before. But I would encourage you to try it since it has a unique, intense flavor that plays especially well when blended with other fresh ingredients like herbs and citrus. When it is, it doesn’t taste so much like fish or seafood, but instead has a complex, salty, rich flavor that’s unlike anything else. Use it sparingly, and you will find it’s a great addition to your pantry.
Alright, did I convince you? You can find fish sauce at all sorts of Asian grocery stores, the international aisle of your local megamart, and of course, online.
Two saucy recipes:
Both of these sauces are perfect for the summer - light, perfect for grilled meats, and keep well in the fridge. They're also both best prepared a few hours ahead of serving so there is plenty of time for the flavors to meld together.
Great with: steamed, roasted, or grilled chicken
- 6 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 inches of ginger, minced
- 4-5 inches of lemongrass, minced fine
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup canola oil, heated
- Combine the green onion, ginger, and lemongrass in a heat proof bowl
- Heat the canola oil in small pan over medium high heat until hot - about 2 minutes (you can test by placing a small piece of green onion into the oil - if it sizzles enthusiastically, it’s ready)
- Pour the hot oil over the green onion mixture and let it sizzle. Stir to combine.
- Add remaining ingredients and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours before serving to let flavors meld, 4-5 hours is even better. Adjust salt before serving. This sauce keeps for 2-3 days covered in the fridge
Note: You can also omit the lemongrass in this recipe if you can’t find it or are not a fan. Just replace it with an extra green onion and an additional half inch of ginger.
Recipe: Herb Nuoc Cham (Nước chấm)
Great with: Grilled and roast pork, steak, and spring rolls as a dipping sauce
- Half bunch cilantro, minced
- 4 serrano chilis, minced (remove seeds if you want a more mild sauce)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 4-5 tablespoons sugar
- 3 limes, juiced
- Pinch black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl
- Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before serving - this is perfect with roast pork, pork chops, and grilled chicken. Serve with plenty of rice.
- Sauce will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days and mellows over time