Nước Chấm Chay – Vegetarian Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Nuoc Cham Chay

Last month when I traveled down to San Diego to visit family, my aunt sent me home with a generous tub of bi chay (a vegetarian version of a very porky dish) and verbal instructions on how to prepare its accompanying sauce (nước chấm chay). I was a little nervous about making nước chấm chay with neither my mother nor my aunt supervising, but with some peer assistance from Tam of A Little Bit Burnt, it turned out well-balanced and very delicious.

After I polished off the bi chay, I used some of the leftover sauce to saute green beans and on a different occasion, to stir fry noodles. The best pairing though was with the hobak jeon (Korean zucchini pancakes). It’s really impressive how versatile this spicy, sweet, and tangy sauce is. After such a terrific first batch, I soon whipped up another because I love the way it brightens up every dish it’s paired with.

  • 1/2 cup soy-based seasoning sauce (like Golden Mountain)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 limes, freshly squeezed
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste or finely chopped fresh or dried chilies

Nuoc Cham Chay

Dilute the sugar with hot water and set aside to cool. Once it is cooled, add the vinegar, lime juice, and soy sauce. Lastly, mix in the garlic and chilies.

Nuoc Cham Chay

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed: If the sauce tastes too concentrated, dilute with a little water. If it tastes too sweet, add more lime juice or vinegar, then add soy sauce to balance. If it tastes too sour, add a little more sugar and soy sauce, and a bit of water to balance.

[For Printable Recipe Click Here]

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4 Responses to “Nước Chấm Chay – Vegetarian Vietnamese Dipping Sauce”


  • I spent 3 yrs in Hanoi and miss Vietnamese food a lot. Those 3 years turned me into a picky vietnamese food enthusiast, naturally, since food there is authentic and tasty as it can be. Now, with your recipes, I feel I can do it too. I’ll give it a try. Thanks for sharing this recipe

  • I have to pass this on to my vegetarian friend who loves vietnamese food but is always missing out because of the fish sauce in everything – especially the nuoc cham! Thanks for the recipe!

  • I have got to make this soon, it’s my kinda food. Thanks.

  • Pam @ Kitchen Cookware world

    This is perfect recipe as I am vegetarian, I was searching for one. Perfect to cook any asian vietnamese and chinese food. Thank you.

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