This Vietnamese-style sweet chili garlic sauce (Nước mắm chua ngọt) is a perfect side companion to any vinaigrette-base salad or seafood dish. You'll get the most flavorful and tangy dipping sauce with the right balance of fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.
There are many ways to make a perfect dipping sauce with fish sauce as a base. All it takes is a slight change in the ratio between the main ingredients.
All sauce, from salad dressing to dipping sauce, should always be made with the correct ratio so they will taste consistent every time.
And this sweet chili garlic fish sauce is no different. Like its sister recipe, ginger garlic dipping sauce, it has a unique, balanced ratio between fish sauce, sugar, and water to make such a perfect sauce on the side.
This sweet chili garlic sauce is
- Quick to make: it only takes 10 minutes from start to finish.
- Super tasty: sweet and tangy are the primary flavors of this fish sauce dipping sauce.
- Versatile: it can be a perfect dressing for any vinaigrette-base salad or a wonderful sauce on the side for a seafood dish.
The perfect ratio
The perfect ratio for this sweet chili garlic sauce is:
- 1 part fish sauce : 1 part sugar : 2 part water : 0.5 part lime juice.
The most important ratio is between fish sauce, sugar, and water. With lime juice, you can adjust the amount accordingly.
I always use Red Boat fish sauce in all of my recipes, especially the braising types.
The importance of garlic
Besides fish sauce, garlic has a vital role in this sweet chili garlic sauce (nước mắm chua ngọt).
The more the garlic is crushed, the stronger the flavor it releases. I strongly recommend using one of the old-fashioned ways to achieve that flavor to the fullest: mortar and pestle.
Crushed garlic goes well not only with dipping sauce but also with butter-flavored base sauce.
I bought a granite mortar and pestle ages ago and still using it. I love it so much because:
- Granite mortal and pestle are the best for crushing garlic and other fresh herbs.
- Granite mortal and pestle won't absorb flavor and odors. Not to mention it's easier to clean (Don't use soap! Just water is enough).
If you want more uniform, finely minced garlic, a small food chopper can do the job perfectly. I am so in love with this Tupperware chopper; it is handy and does the job wonderfully.
The chopper will be handy if you make a big batch of this sweet chili garlic sauce.
However, if neither mortar nor mini chopper is available for you, a good old traditional way of mincing is to use a knife, and a cutting board will go a long way.
Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce - Vietnamese Style
- Mix all ingredients together (except garlic and chili) in a small mixing bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved completely.
- Add garlic and its juice (if any) and chili afterward. Give the sauce a few stirs so the minced garlic can release its fragrance into the dipping sauce.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.