Even though Vietnamese food overall is pretty laborious, one of the most common things on a Vietnamese meal table is actually one of the quickest and easiest, and that’s nuoc cham, the ubiquitous, fish-based dipping sauce that is sweet, salty, sour, and umami. It comes together in less than 15 minutes, and when you have a mortar and pestle, you don’t even have to mince any garlic, and it could come together even quicker!
I used to pound the garlic and the chilies for this with a make-shift mortar and pestle the way my mom does it, which is pounding these two ingredients against sugar in a bowl with the back of the knife, but now that I have a real mortar and pestle, it’s so much more satisfying to mash in the mortar and so much quicker, too. I also think the flavors are also stronger and more pronounced with the fish sauce now, but I guess my opinion is biased since I obviously know the change I’ve made to my method.
I posted a video on TikTok and Instagram for my method, which is pretty much my mom’s method for making nuoc cham. And a former colleague who is Vietnamese said that his method was completely different, but he still “approved” of mine.
WHAT METHOD COULD BE BETTER THAN ONE THAT HAS POUNDED GARLIC AND CHILIES? 😀