Nuac Cham (Dipping Sauce)

The most popular condiment in Vietnam is nuoc cham, which is as common as ketchup is in North America. Small saucers filled with nuoc cham are present at practically every meal, and diners dip everything from spring rolls to meatballs into it. This recipe can be adjusted to suit individual tastes by using more or less red pepper and nuoc mam.

In a small bowl, soak the red pepper flakes in the vinegar for 10-15 minutes.

In a second bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and sugar. Carefully add in 1½ cups boiling water and the pepper-vinegar mixture. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Allow to cool. Serve at room temperature. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.