Nuoc mam gung is one of the classic Vietnamese dipping sauces. No, it's not nuoc cham all the time with Vietnamese cooking. We've got a zillion kinds of dipping sauces to go with our foods. Many cooks skimp on the ginger but I love the jolt of it, with the bracing qualities of the lime, muted slightly by a touch of sugar. If you want extra heat, add chiles. I've had a friend drink this sauce.
Pair it with seafood, especially deep fried catfish. It's also the dipping sauce for robustly flavored dishes such as steamed stuffed snails (oc nhoi) and panfried stuffed squid (muc nhoi). Even simple foods such as poached chicken or chicken rice soup (chao ga) benefits from the tangy-hot-sweet flavors of this sauce.
Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce
Nuoc Mam Gung
Makes about 2/3 cup
Chubby 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (2 or 3 limes)
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
In a small bowl, combine the ginger, lime juice, and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors with more lime sugar or sugar as needed. The ginger and lime should both be prominent, but not to the point that they make you wince and pucker. Add the fish sauce, starting out with 2 tablespoons and adding more as your palate dictates. Set aside for 30 minutes to let the ginger bloom before serving.