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Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:58 am

Vietnamese dipping sauce

  • 3 Thai bird chiles OR one Serrano or Jalapeño chile, or more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 T. light brown sugar
  • 2 T. lime juice
  • 4 T. fish sauce (see note below)
  • 1/2 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 T. grated carrot, optional

Using rubber or latex gloves, thinly slice the chiles. Put the chiles in a jar or bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir or shake until the sugar is dissolved. Taste the sauce. You may want to add more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar or reduce the strength of the sauce with a little additional water.

Notes: Chinese five-spice powder is a mixture of ground star anise, cloves, Szechwan peppercorns, fennel seeds and cassia or cinnamon. The proportions vary greatly from cook to cook, and purveyor to purveyor throughout Asia; as the use of five-spice powder extended beyond Chinese borders. It’s available locally at Food Fantasies, Little World Market and in the Asian sections of some grocery stores. There are many recipes online for making your own.

Fish sauce is a salty condiment/ingredient used throughout Southeast Asia in much the same way as soy sauce is in countries such as China, Japan and Korea. These days it’s usually available in the Asian sections of grocery stores; however the best ones are usually found in Asian markets. I prefer Three Crabs brand (easily identified by the three crabs on the label), available locally at Little World Market.
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