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Nước chấm is a Vietnamese for a common variety of dipping sauces, which can be sweet, sour, salty, savoury and spicy. If you’ve eaten at a local Vietnamese restaurant, you most likely would have tasted nuoc cham in the form of a dipping sauce for your deep fried spring rolls or sauce you pour over your lemongrass chicken and noodles.
Recently at the Fraser Valley Food Show, I met Thompson Tran, Executive Chef/Owner of The Wooden Boat, a Port Moody catering company that specializes in Vietnamese and French cuisine. He was at the show promoting his latest product, Nuoc Cham. A mixture of fish sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, dehydrated garlic, and dehydrated red bell pepper this bottle of Nuoc Cham provides a 100% natural and gluten free sauce – used in any dish to enhance a salty, sweet, sour and spicy flavor.
I received a bottle of sauce from Thompson and have tried it two different ways. First, I compared it with the nuoc cham received at a local Vietnamese restaurant, where I ordered a lemongrass chicken with rice noodles for takeout. I drizzled some of the restaurant’s nuoc cham on my noodles and compared it with The Wooden Boat’s Nuoc Cham on my noodles. I really enjoyed the spicy kick to The Wooden Boat’s Nuoc Cham and found it less salty versus the restaurant one. It was lighter in flavour yet still complimented my dish nicely! I definitely will be using my bottle versus the restaurant’s from now on!
The second method I used this in was when I made a brussels sprouts dish at home for dinner. I pan fried brussels sprouts with some farmer’s sausage I had also bought at the Fraser Valley Food Show. As final flavouring I drizzled some Nuoc Cham into the brussels sprouts and mixed it before serving. My husband enjoyed the dish so much – he said it was the best way that I’ve cooked brussels sprouts of all the times I’ve made it for him! Two thumbs up is a great welcome in this household.
The Wooden Boat’s Nuoc Cham can be purchased at various Lower Mainland grocery stores such as Donald’s Market, Meinhardt Fine Foods, Gourmet Warehouse, and Famous Foods. There are also several Vancouver Island groceries that now carry this. For full list, visit The Wooden Boat’s website.
Calories In Nuoc Cham Sauce
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 67.4 Total Fat 0.1 g Saturated Fat 0.0 g Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g Cholesterol 0.0 mg Sodium 2,435.8 mg Potassium 148.4 mg Total Carbohydrate 16.2 g Dietary Fiber 0.4 g Sugars 12.2 g Protein 1.7 g Vitamin A 18.9 % Vitamin B-12 2.3 % Vitamin B-6 7.7 % Vitamin C 17.2 % Vitamin D 0.0 % Vitamin E 0.3 % Calcium 2.3 % Copper 1.5 % Folate 4.8 % Iron 1.7 % Magnesium 13.6 % Manganese 5.4 % Niacin 3.9 % Pantothenic Acid 1.0 % Phosphorus 1.1 % Riboflavin 1.6 % Selenium 4.1 % Thiamin 1.3 % Zinc 0.8 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Calories in Nuoc Cham Sauce
Calories per Ingredient
Here are the foods from our food nutrition database that were used for the nutrition calculations of this recipe.
Calories per serving of Nuoc Cham Sauce
24 calories of Granulated Sugar, (1.50 tsp)
20 calories of Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar, (1 tbsp)
10 calories of Fish Sauce, (1 fl oz)
8 calories of Lime Juice, (1 fl oz)
3 calories of Carrots, raw, (0.06 cup, chopped)
2 calories of Garlic, (0.50 clove)
0 calories of Water, bottled, (100 grams)
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
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Studded with spicy Thai chilies and fresh garlic, this Vietnamese dipping sauce, or Nuoc Cham, is a staple of Vietnamese cooking – plus it’s ready in 5 minutes!
Consisting of fish sauce, garlic, chilies, sugar and lime juice, this sauce is the epitome of Vietnamese flavors – it’s sweet, salty, sour and spicy.
The result is an incredibly flavorful “umami” dipping sauce that is almost drinkable…seriously…it’s that good. Make it ahead and store it in the fridge (in a covered container) as it will last a long time.
There are only a handful of ingredients used here – fish sauce, lime, coconut (or palm) sugar, garlic and chilies.
You can use either coconut sugar or palm sugar for this recipe. I love the flavor of palm sugar personally, but coconut sugar works as well. Buy palm sugar HERE on Amazon ( affiliate link).
Thai chilies can be left out, but I think they impart an incredible spicy flavor to the sauce love to include them. If you can’t find them, you can also thinly slice a serrano pepper and use that.
Fresh lime juice is a MUST. Do not use bottled lime juice or the flavor will be all wrong. I actually almost never recommend using bottled lime juice as the flavor is so different than fresh.
What is Fish Sauce?
Fish sauce is a sauce made from anchovies fermented in salt. While the smell can sometimes be strong, the flavor is out of this world delicious. When added to marinades and sauces, it does not have a fishy flavor as you would expect. It just adds a wonderful savory flavor.
My favorite fish sauce to use is Red Boat 40
Check out these 20+ ways to use fish sauce!
Step By Step Instructions
They key to this sauce is getting the flavor balance correct. Whisk together the lime juice, water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
**for a sweeter sauce like you find in many restaurant in America, reduce the amount of fish sauce to 5 tablespoons.
Add the chilies and garlic and let it stand for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving. The amount of chilies can be adjusted based on spice preference.
It’s also incredible served as a dipping sauce for these Vietnamese Egg Rolls or these Chicken Summer Rolls.
And if you have simple grilled meat, pork, chicken or even seafood, you can just dip it in this sauce for a boost of flavor.
Adjust the amount of chilies to your spice preference. Remember that Thai chilies can be extremely spicy.
Use warm water to help the sugar dissolve.
Add the fish sauce slowly, tasting along the way, until you get the perfect flavor. You may have to add more/less depending on your preference.
For a sweeter nuoc cham, reduce the amount of fish sauce to 5 tablespoons.
Reader’s Favorite Vietnamese Recipes
How To Make Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
I love, love, love this Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) sauce! Seriously, if I can add this to anything, I will. It’s just so good! It’s amazing that with just a few ingredients mixed together, this sauce produces such a complex yet delicious combination of flavors!
It showcases perfectly balanced flavors that all work together to create a condiment that truly enhances the taste of anything it is added to.
I have often said that this Nuoc Cham perfectly defines what Vietnamese cuisine all about. How did I know that?
Through a cooking class I attended in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam a few years ago when I visited the country while on a cooking tour for my book to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine.
I learned so much under an amazing chef who was previously a scientist, a chemist, if I recall it correctly. That’s why all his recipes were very precise – he has almost a formulaic approach to his cooking. It must work because everything I tasted during that cooking class was absolutely delicious!
Most of all he kindly shared literally hundreds of his recipes with me. I could even open a Vietnamese restaurant if I wanted to based on those! Haha.
He was the one who introduced me to the “happy family” of flavors that make up Vietnamese cuisine. After tasting all the dishes he prepared, I was totally sold.
Even today, every time I cook Vietnamese food, I hear his voice in my ears whispering – “Remember the happy family. You do that and everything will be fine!” That is what guides me in making delicious Vietnamese food.
So what is this HAPPY FAMILY in Vietnamese cooking?
Well, happy family represents a harmonious and perfectly balanced combination of flavors that is associated with Vietnamese food and cooking.
Essentially, “happy family” is a combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors all coming together in one dish. Neither one flavor overpowers the rest but all work together to produce a layer of flavors that would make your tastebuds sing!
Don’t you notice this layering of flavors when you eat Vietnamese and Thai food? Nothing monotonous in their flavors! Yup, their cuisine is so closely related to one another!
I think the Thais and the Vietnamese have truly perfected this art! That’s why I am a huge fan of their cuisine!!!
So my favorite chef told me that whenever I make Vietnamese food, I should remember to balance these flavors and that the result would always be delicious and authentic! I have often applied this principle not just to Vietnamese cooking but any other Asian cuisine and the results were amazing.
Learn how to balance these flavors and your dish would come out tasty and complex and would never be one-dimensional. Also, training your palate to do this means in the future you may not even need to totally follow a recipe but can simply use your own tastebuds to guide you. Now, that is amazing!
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO MAKE this basic Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
Lime juice – freshly squeezed is best. This represents the SOUR element.
Fish sauce – use only the best and purest quality you can find (no additives). This represents the SALTY element.
Sugar – white or brown is fine. Brown sugar like the one I used above, makes this sauce slightly darker. – This represents the SWEET element.
Water – helps dilute the sauce a little and also aids in balancing all the other flavors.
Thai red chili – this would add a little kick but won’t make the spring rolls or salad spicy so don’t forget to add this. This represents the SPICY element.
Garlic – adds even more complexity and deliciousness to the sauce!
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