This classic Vietnamese condiment—balancing sweet, spicy, and sour flavors—is an essential accompaniment for the crab spring rolls featured in "Rites of Spring," a story about a Vietnamese-American family that fishes for crabs near New York City (see SAVEUR, May 2008). The sauce is also great with grilled beef or pork.
- 4 tbsp. sugar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Thai chiles, stemmed (1 whole and 1 sliced into thin rings)
- 4 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- ⅛ cups julienned carrots
Pile 1 tbsp. of the sugar, garlic, and the whole chile on a cutting board and roughly chop everything together. Using the side of the knife, scrape the garlic-chile mixture into a rough paste.
Transfer the paste to a medium bowl and whisk in remaining 3 tbsp. sugar and 1 cup warm water until the sugar dissolves. This will take about 30 seconds. Whisk in fish sauce, lime juice, sliced chiles, and carrots. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together; stir well before serving. The sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.