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Vietnamese Spring Roll Sauce Recipe?

I looked through the archives but couldn't find anything relating to this - I've been making Vietnamese spring rolls at home more and more lately, but I can't get the sauce right! I've tried both peanut/hoisin-based ones as well as fish oil/sugar ones, and I can't seem to get restaurant-quality sauces. Any tips to make them better?

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  1. The key for me was to find the highest-quality nuoc mam I could find, and to do that I went to an Asian market and asked the owner. He also advised me to use half unseasoned rice vinegar for half the lime juice called for in the recipe, and it was delicious. good luck in your quest!

    1 Reply
    1. I can that tell you that the Classic Nước chấm sauce for the Chả giò (fried spring rolls) does not have any oil in it.
      This is a great recipe for it http://sundaynitedinner.com/vietnames...
      There is also a very good recipe for the Nước Lèo (peanut- hosin sauce) http://sundaynitedinner.com/goi-cuon-...
      I have found both these recipes superior than most restaurant made sauces.
      Hope it helps

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefj

        These look delicious! Thank you! In your experience is that the brand of fish sauce you use too?

        1. re: beebers

          No but the brand I use, 5 Crabs Fish Sauce, is made by the same company but is harder to find and not really for cooking with. 3 crabs is fine for cooking and dipping sauces and unless you use a lot of fish sauce it is probably best to stick with one that is all purpose.

      2. Have you tried asking your favorite Vietnamese restaurant about the brand they use?

        1 Reply
        1. re: raytamsgv

          I guess I could - I just assumed they'd decline to share! Not a bad idea!

        2. I made this - paraphrased from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen":

          2 chicken livers or 2 Tbs PB
          2 2Tbs + 1c H20
          1 Tbs neutral oil
          1 garlic clove mashed
          .25 - .5 tsp red pepper flake
          1 tsp tomato paste
          6 - 8 Tbsp hoisin
          1 tsp fish sauce
          1.5 tsp cornstarch in 1.5 tsp water
          2 Tbsp chopped peanut
          1 tsp toasted sesame

          Blend liver/PB with 2 Tbsp water. Heat oil, garlic, chili, tomato paste. Add rest of water ad liver. When it boils add hoisin, when it simmers again add cornstarch. Add fish sauce. Let it cool. Add peanut and sesame right before serving.

          Really good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: corneygirl

            Thank you! I'll give this a shot!

          2. I second the idea of using part juice, part vinegar, though I use more juice. Fish sauce varies enough by saltiness and fish-sauce-ness that the recipe would need to be altered to match your brand choice, in my opinion. Make sure to change the sugar and salt to taste, and don't be stuck with the recipe. But I make a Thai version of things, not Vietnamese, so take anything I say with that in mind.

            Perhaps your favorite restaurant does something un-traditional with the recipe? How "old" is their sauce? Has it had more of a chance to meld than you give it?

            1 Reply
            1. re: saltwater

              Good point - it probably has some time to really meld. But I also think lessening the lime and getting a better fish sauce will help me!

            2. Starting with good quality fish sauce (Viet Huong (3 Crabs) Fish Sauce) is very important...some are very salty. Other ingredients are also important. For hoisin - Lee Kum Kee. For rice wine vinegar - Marukan.

              3 crabs fish sauce can be two to three times more expensive than some other brands but it's the best of the bunch IMO and well worth it considering that it last quite a long time.

              Use recipe as a guide and trust your own taste buds is the only other thing I'd recommend.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                Thank you so much! I'm going to upgrade to these brands - you've been super helpful!

              2. I agree with others that best ingredients are so important.

                Taste different brands, price is generally a good guide for asian ingredients from asian grocers. It might seem expensive this one first time but will save you money and heartache in the long term if you never buy a crappy sauce again. Some fish sauces and hoisins are bloody awful.

                Here in Australia, the only ok brand that makes it into (some of) our supermarkets is Lee Kum Kee but the rest of them are horrible. I would make the trip to an asian grocer if you've been relying on supermarket brands.

                2 Replies
                1. Beebers, could you share your Spring Roll recipe with us?

                  1. I had the same problem. My friend told me to do this and it works:

                    "Put 2 to 3 garlic cloves in a bowl, 1 or 2 hot chilies (depends on how spicy you want it to be), 1 tablespoon sugar, smash them together, until it becomes sticky. Add 1/3 cup fish sauce, then squeeze 1 lime into the bowl, stir it up. Finally, add 2/3 of a cup to 1 cup purified drinking water"

                    I also use the three crabs brand fish sauce, which makes a big difference as everyone else has mentioned. Another thing that i notice is that vietnamese restaurants are not as afraid of sugar as home-cooks, so if you're unsure, probably need more sugar.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chocomel

                      That's exactly what my Vietnamese mother taught me. Vietnamese people are not big on following a foolproof recipe. The great dishes are often the results of multiple tries, and recipes can always be reinterpreted to your own liking.