Dipping Sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Beth Asaff
Sweet and sour sauce with spring rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls contain vegetables and small amounts of meat rolled in moistened rice paper. They are typically referred to as "salad" rolls, and like any good salad they require a dressing, or in this case a dipping sauce to enhance the flavor. While every Vietnamese family and restaurant has a unique variation for dipping sauces, there are several standard ingredients.

The Main Ingredients in Dipping Sauce

There are multiple variations for dipping sauces for Vietnamese spring rolls. The most traditional sauce, however, is a sweet and sour sauce, known as nuoc cham.

Quantities of each ingredient in the sauce can change, and substitutions or additions can help create a unique, flavorful sauce that is based on the chef's taste. The traditional ingredients, however, are:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Fish sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Thai chili peppers

Other common ingredients include:

  • Minced ginger
  • Chinese hoisin sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Soy sauce

Recipes for Dipping Sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Try these variations of different dipping sauces to get a sense of the various flavors involved. Then, create your own based upon your personal tastes.

Basic Dipping Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 Thai chili peppers, minced

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a sealable jar and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice and mix well.
  3. Stir in the garlic and peppers.

The sauce can be served immediately or refrigerated in a sealed jar.

Fish Sauce Flavored Recipe

Fish sauce

This recipe is heavier on the fish sauce for an additional depth of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Thai chili minced

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a jar and shake well.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Serve immediately.

Peanut Sauce Recipe

Peanut sauce

For those that don't care for the traditional taste of the fish sauce, this peanut based recipe may appeal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chili, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced peanuts for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Sauté the garlic and chili in the peanut oil until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the water, sugar, peanut butter and hoisin sauce and stir until the peanut butter is dissolved.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for three minutes, remove from heat and garnish with minced peanuts.

Change the Sauce with the Filling

The filling of Vietnamese spring rolls can vary based on season, ingredients on hand and personal tastes. Adapt your dipping sauce to complement the ingredients that are in each specific roll, reducing spices when using less meat and increasing the amount of lime juice with shrimp fillings. The end result should be a perfect pairing between the spring roll and the sauce it's dipped in. Don't be afraid to tinker until you get it just right.

Dipping Sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls