Creamy Nuoc Cham

banh mi sandwich with a side of nuoc cham sauce
banh mi sandwich with a side of nuoc cham sauce photo by jonathan gayman


¼ cup sliced shallots
¼ cup water
3 Tbsp. brown sugar, plus more to taste
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
4 smashed garlic cloves
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. sambal or chili garlic paste, plus more to taste
3 to 4 sprigs cilantro (optional)
¼ cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste


• In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the shallots, water, brown sugar, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the ginger and garlic are soft, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

• Add the mixture to a food processor or blender, along with the lime juice, mayonnaise, sambal and cilantro. Blend until smooth. 

• With the blender running, drizzle in the vegetable oil until emulsified. Season to taste with additional sugar, sambal and salt. The sauce will keep in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.