Chili garlic fish sauce is a perfect companion dipping sauce for your every day dish from poultry to seafood. With the right balance of saltiness from fish sauce, sourness from lime juice and sweetness from sugar; you’ll get the most flavorful and tangy dipping sauce.
In Southeast Asian cuisine, fish sauce, chili and garlic are the most used ingredients and have the most impact on our cooking culture. Almost every dish asks for the almighty chili garlic dipping sauce.
There are a lot of versions of dipping sauce which has fish sauce as a base.
The key to differentiate one to another is the ratio between fish sauce and the rest of the ingredients.
You only need to lower the amount of sugar in one recipe then voila, you’ll have a brand new version of dipping sauce.
The perfect ratio in making this chili garlic fish sauce (Nước chấm)
The ratio I’m using for this recipe is (with 33N fish sauce):
- 1 part fish sauce : 1 part sugar : 2 part water : 0.5 part lime juice
The ratio for 40N fish sauce should be (this ratio is used in this ginger garlic fish sauce recipe)
- 0.75 part fish sauce (40N) : 1 part sugar : 2 part water : 0.5 part lime juice
Normally, other recipes would call for an adjustable amount of lime juice. But as a person who’s working in a commercial kitchen, consistent is the key here.
If I want to make the perfect dipping sauce I need to have a perfect ratio for every single ingredient.
Pick the right fish sauce
The type of fish sauce you’re using is matter too. This recipe is call for 33N fish sauce.
You can use any brand but beware of the N-level. N-level is the industry standard use to measure the amount of nitrogen. Technically, the more N-level it has, the more salty it will be as for containing more protein level.
More information about fish sauce level can be found here on Red Boat Fish Sauce website.
Personally, I prefer Red Boat fish sauce. It is known as the best fish sauce out there.
The more finely the cloves are crushed (not cut or mince into pieces), the stronger the flavor will be. That said I strongly recommend you using one of the old-fashioned way to crush garlic: using mortar and pestle.
Crushed garlic goes well not only with dipping sauce but also with butter-flavored base sauce.
I bought a granite mortal and pestle ages ago and still using it. I love it so much because:
- Granite mortal and pestle are the best when it comes to 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)
Chili Garlic Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce
- 3 oz fish sauce 33N (see notes above)
- 6 oz warm water
- 3 oz granulated sugar
- 1.5 oz lime juice
- 2 bulb garlic smashed or finely minced (keep the juice)
- 3 Thai chili finely minced
- In a small mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together (except garlic and chili) and whisk until everything is combined.
- Add garlic and its juice (if any) and chili afterward.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.