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.
Thompson created this sauce so home cooks can use this to create not only Vietnamese cuisine, but also infuse Asian flavors into other types of cuisine. On his website, he has posted several recipes of ways to use the sauce.
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.
I haven’t tried any of the recipes listed on The Wooden Boat’s website, but this Stir-fried Beef with Watercress sounds delicious! I have bookmarked this recipe to try next with the Nuoc Cham sauce.
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.