Ginger garlic fish sauce is a tangy and spicy dipping sauce that is suitable for variety of protein: from poultry to seafood. Lets explore a Japanese technique and a secret ratio to make this tasty dipping sauce right every time.
Fish sauce is the star in Vietnamese cuisine. It is used widely in almost every authentic dish and dipping sauce. We can say the world of Viet dipping sauce is built around fish sauce. And ginger garlic fish sauce (nước mắm gừng) is one of the popular variations.
The process of making fish sauce into a dipping sauce is not a rocket science. But, you still need a little mathematic in order to make such great nước chấm (dipping sauce).
The mathematic lies behind every dipping sauce recipe is the ratio between its ingredients. Once you figure it out, then you become a master of fish sauce dipping sauce.
Besides the ratio, the technique also contributes a good part in making the sauce tastier than one another.
Want to know the Japanese technique and a secret ratio of making this ginger garlic fish sauce? Keep reading!
What is ginger?
Ginger is a well-known spice that is fiery but sweet, with notes of lemon and rosemary, some may say.
Fresh ginger should keep for about a month under refrigeration. It is widely used in Asian cuisines. It has a special affinity for chicken, seafood and curries.
Dried ginger is a fine, yellow powder that is also often used in cooking and especially baking. Its flavor is spicier and not as sweet as fresh ginger.
What is garlic?
Garlic is also used in almost every cuisine in the world. There are more than three hundreds type of garlic, only three of them are commercially significant.
Pure white garlic is the most common one and it has a very sharp and tangy flavor and is the one used in this recipe.
Elephant garlic has an apple-sized and a mild flavor.
Pink or pale purple garlic has a very strong, sharp flavor compared to the other two.
Just a note, black garlic is not a variety of garlic, it is a result of heating and aging process applied to common white garlic. Black garlic is chewy, with a mild and sweet flavor and known for improving health benefits.
You should store garlic in a well ventilated place, away from direct sun light. Also, never ever refrigerate garlic as it can reduce the flavor in this amazing ingredient.
Equipment and techniques used in this ginger garlic fish sauce
When it comes to making fish sauce dipping sauce, mincing is a technique that is normally used toward all the ingredients. However, with this 'nước mắm gừng' recipe, I want to apply new method & technique in order to achieve its flavor and liquid texture to the fullest.
First, the garlic. 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.
Try to stay away from electric food processor and blender when it comes to garlic as possible. You need to crush the garlic to release that kind of aroma not to cut into it.
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 so I had to take in on a plane with me when I move half across the globe 5 years ago.
- 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) . These characteristics are a winner compared to its electric counter part.
Second, the ginger. Normally, in almost all ginger garlic dipping sauce recipes, knife is the main equipment to call for. However, I found it is quite hard to consume ginger that way.
Mincing can't really get rid of those stringy rhizomes and they can get stuck between your teeth easily. Not to mention, that makes some people feel uncomfortable even though the dipping sauce is delicious.
The best way to have fine minced texture of ginger is to grate it by a grater, and not to cut it into small pieces using a knife.
This is where I apply a Japanese wasabi grating technique to this dipping sauce recipe. I grate ginger using Japanese style shark skin grater instead of mincing it by a knife.
The abrasive surface of shark skin grater, which is widely used in sushi restaurant, helps to break down the dense texture of ginger and allows it to release full flavor potential.
You'll find the ginger melt in your mouth completely if using this method instead of traditional mincing one.
Secret ratio of this ginger garlic fish sauce
I use 40N fish sauce in this recipe and I prefer Red Boat fish sauce. It is known as the best fish sauce out there.
You can use any brand but beware of the N-level. N-level is the industry standard used 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.
Three crabs brand and squid brand are the other widely used fish sauce brands in the Vietnamese-American community.
This recipe is using the same ratio in this chili garlic fish sauce dipping sauce with an extra of grated ginger. If you use 33N level fish sauce instead, you can use the ratio that is mentioned in the above recipe.
The ratio I using for this recipe 'nước mắm gừng' is:
- 1 part sugar : 0.75 part fish sauce (40N) : 2 part water : 0.5 part lime juice
- The amount of ginger can be adjusted according to your tolerance to tangy and spicy. It can be between ½ tsp to 1 tsp of finely grated ginger.
Ginger Garlic Fish Sauce
- Japanese shark skin grater
- Mortal and pestle
- 1.5 oz fish sauce 40N, prefer Red Boat fish sauce brand
- 4 oz water
- 2 oz sugar
- 1 oz lime juice fresh squeezed
- 2 head garlic peeled
- 0.5 oz ginger peeled, keep a whole piece intact
- 2 small Thai chilies chopped
- Use Japanese shark skin grater to finely grate whole piece of ginger. Set aside.
- Put peeled garlic into mortal and use pestle to smash them into pieces. Use a spoon to scoop them out, include the juice if any. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine water, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice. Stir to dissolve sugar completely.
- Put garlic and chopped Thai chilies in. Gradually add grated ginger, start with ¼ tsp. Adjust the amount of ginger in the dipping sauce according to your taste.
- Store the sauce in an air tight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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