And after trying a few of their excellent dishes, I now order the same thing every time: Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Shrimp and Pork Crispy Rolls. It’s an inspired dish consisting of thin rice noodles, a heap of crunchy veggies (bean sprouts, shredded romaine, pickled carrot and turnip, green onion, and cilantro), three skewers of five-spice scented grilled shrimp, two of the crunchiest pork rolls ever, golden fried garlic, and chopped peanuts. Wow!
But as transporting as this all is, I haven’t yet mentioned the best part. THE VIETNAMESE DIPPING SAUCE. It comes in a small plastic cup nestled next to the rice noodles. I move the shrimp and crispy rolls to the side, pour the sauce over the noodles, and then toss the noodles with the veggies.
Your palate is going to do back flips when it tastes this combo. Lively and refreshing, with so many amazing textural and flavor contrasts. I can’t get enough of it. Which is why I tucked an extra cup of sauce into my bag today, and then hurried back to the OtherWorldly Kitchen to “figure it out.”
After a few false starts (this sauce doesn’t contain rice vinegar, for instance), I think I have it. Or very nearly so, in any case. I was surprised by how much it differs from the earlier Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) I wrote about here.
I put Luc Lac’s sauce in a clear bowl to one side of the work surface and tasted continually as I developed my copycat sauce. I thought I might have difficulty duplicating the rosy tint of the original sauce, but Three Crabs brand Viet Huong fish sauce becomes that perfect rosy shade as it is diluted with liquid.
The greater difficulty turned out to be getting the perfect balance between umami, salt, sugar, acid, and heat. Luc Lac’s sauce, while very flavorful, isn’t overpowering. I can actually drink it on its own. So I ended up tripling the water ratio I started with. And brown sugar makes the sauce too dark, so I switched to white sugar. My own embellishment is the addition of lime zest, which I think you will like.
Almost Luc Lac Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Luc Luc Vietnamese Kitchen in downtown Portland, Oregon is one of my fave lunch hangouts. I especially love the cool rice noodles and crunchy embellishments tossed together with their savory, salty, sweet, tart, hot sauce.
¼ cup premium fish sauce (Viet Huong Three Crabs brand)
¾ cup Coco Rico (Puerto Rican coconut-flavored soda), Bundaberg Ginger Beer (my favorite!), or water
¼ cup grated palm sugar or regular sugar, to taste
finely grated zest of one lime
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon Korean fermented chili paste, optional
1 tablespoon minced green onion (green part only)
2 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced or pressed (1 teaspoon minced)
1 teaspoon minced red or green Thai chile (use disposable rubber gloves to mince this very hot chile)
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, liquid of choice, sugar of choice, lime zest, lime juice, and chile paste.
- Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Add green onion, garlic, and chile.
- Taste the sauce, and adjust flavor elements to taste.
Makes about 1¼ cup.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes from LunaCafe
- Asian Potsticker Dough (for Jiaozi & Gyoza Dumplings)
- Asian Pancakes (Beijing Pancakes)
- Asian Tacos with Prawn & Shiitake Filling & Cabbage Slaw
- Chinese Cracker Jacks
- Chinese Good Fortune Cookies
- Home-Style Chinese Fried Rice
- Spicy Korean Noodle Soup (Jjambbong)
- Spicy Pork Wonton Soup
- Thai Red Curry Paste
- Thai Red Curry Soup
- Vietnamese Crispy Crepes (Banh Xeo)
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- Gastronomy: Nuoc Cham – Vietnamese Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
- Mix Magazine: Asian Cooking: 5 Chefs Share Shopping Tips & Favorite Recipes
- Saveur: Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)
- Sunday Night Dinner: Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
- TasteSpotting: Nuoc Cham
- The Delicious Life: (obsessed with) Momofuku Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
- Wandering Chopsticks: Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
- Wandering Chopsticks: Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce)
- White on Rice Couple: Basic Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
Asian Markets in or near Portland, Oregon
- Uwajimaya (Beaverton)
- Oriental Food Value (Southeast)
- Fubonn (Southeast)
- An Dong Market (Southeast)
- Om Seafood (Southeast)
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Copyright 2013 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.