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Cambodian Spicy Lime Table Sauce | Chris Cooks

May 7, 2023

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I’m going to make a claim right now. And it’s a claim you hear over and over from food bloggers. So much so, that it feels trite and meaningless, so I hesitate to say it. But please, read these words with the same spirit that I write them: this is my favorite recipe ever.

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Southeast Asian cuisine is tops when it comes to flavor. Last week I shared my grilled beef skewers and mentioned that they go perfectly with spicy lime dressing. A lot of questions came in about the dressing (sauce), so instead of burying the recipe in a comment thread, I’m creating a dedicated post because it deserves it. This table sauce is an absolute cataclysm of flavor.

“What do you use this for?” So, so much. Steak, we’ve covered. But I use this for chicken, fish, shrimp, crab, salads, eggs, rice, potatoes, vegetables, and even fruit (mango is slammin’ with this sauce). It’s salty, sweet, acidic, spicy, bitter – this sauce wakes up every part of your tongue and gets it two-stepping to the beat. I am not exaggerating when I say this is the best flavor combination I personally know of.

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This sauce keeps in the fridge for weeks, though I go through it pretty quick. You can very easily manage the spice level depending on how many chilis you add (suggestions noted in the recipe). For your first time trying this, just get some greens, thin-cut grilled steaks, and some rice. This sauce on rice?! It’s bananas.

I’m also still learning how to make Southeast Asian food, and everything I try is like I’m a baby tasting food for the very first time. So please, anyone who is from the region, I’d love to know your thoughts! How did I do?

Cambodian Spicy Lime Table Sauce
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Cambodian Spicy Lime Table Sauce

The most flavorful sauce on the planet. This all-purpose sauce hits every note of flavor in perfect harmony, and is the ideal condiment for rice, meats, vegetables and even fruit.
Cuisine: Cambodian, Laotian, Thai

Ingredients

For Mild (by U.S. standards)

For Medium (by U.S. standards)

For Spicy (by U.S. standards)

To Really Bring the Heat

Instructions

  • In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved completely. Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge. Will reach full spice level after about 3 days, but can be enjoyed immediately.

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What do you think?

  1. Sandra says:

    This is REALLY good! So far, we’ve used it on a simple green salad with mango and raw fennel and on grilled shrimp and grilled pineapple. All were delicious! Thank you.

  2. Leah says:

    5 stars
    This was 🔥 🔥 🔥!! I’m not a fish person at all so I was worried this would too much for me, but this was the perfect with the skewers, which were great but this really took them to another level. Another banger! When are we getting a cookbook?

  3. I’m a follower of y’all’s and Cambodian, so had to comment – my parents are from Cambodia and I grew up eating and cooking Cambodian food my entire life. I have also visited twice. I don’t think your recipe is far off at all and probably achieves a similar flavor profile!

    We actually just call this “fish sauce” (direct translation) – which is also what the stuff straight out of the bottle is called. It’s used interchangeably, but people just know which you’re talking about (dipping sauce or bottle) depending on the context. It’s similar to Vietnamese fish sauce; they use the term “ngoc mam” to mean both.

    We would also boil the water and sugar first (essentially a simple syrup) before mixing everything else in just to ensure the sugar is fully dissolved.

    I don’t *typically* see shallot, but definitely garlic! But we do use shallot in our cooking so it’s not too far out there and I’m sure it’s been used before.

    As far as I know, we don’t use a lot of dried chili flakes in our cooking. Chilis would maybe be sun-dried or more commonly transformed into a paste. Perhaps in a pinch, chili flakes could be used as a substitute. For less spice (I admit I have a more mild American palette), I just use less bird’s eye (Thai) chili.

    Finally, there are variations of it that are also yummy! We often add crushed peanuts straight into the sauce for a little crunch mixed in.

    We also make a version that has ginger added blitzed into it that goes great with poultry and seafood. I make it with all the time with chicken rice, another dish you should try since you like southeast Asian food if you haven’t already. Very similar to the more popularized Hainanese chicken rice, the same roots due to cultural migration, etc.

    Sorry for the long comment, just excited to see the mention of Cambodian on such a large platform lol

  4. Kat says:

    Thank you for this awesome recipe Chris!

  5. JULIE says:

    Chris – your weekly recipe is always amazing, so much detail and great instructions and photos. I swear if this was “Chris Loves Cooking” and a dedicated food blog that you would have hundreds of comments and foodie visitors. I love that your passion gets highlighted here!

  6. Jennie says:

    Sounds awesome! What would be a good substitute for the Fish Sauce? I’m vegetarian. :)

  7. Lmm says:

    Not one for anything “fishy”. Does the fish sauce flavor really come through? Or any chance there’s a recommended substitute? Sounds delicious!

    • Chris says:

      It doesn’t taste fishy to me, but sometimes after I eat it Jules will comment on something smelling like fish. So it may vary from person to person.

  8. MaryBeth Vilhauer says:

    U mentioned coconut aminos in place of soy but I see neither in recipe ???

  9. Rs says:

    Is there any alternative for the fish sauce that’s vegetarian?

  10. Meng says:

    5 stars
    I wanted to say thank you for how you wrote this and for acknowledging the origins of this sauce and your own knowledge (or even lack thereof) of this type of cuisine! I wish more bloggers were culturally appreciative! I’m excited to try your version of this!

  11. Spresa Culafi says:

    Sounds refreshing with the lime. Trying it this week. Thanks for sharing!

  12. kim weigand says:

    Can’t wait to try!! Love Asian condiments. And, even as southern Georgia gal, I’ve gotten pretty good at some of their dishes/condiments!

    • Erin says:

      Hi Chris! How long do you think this would stay good in the fridge for? Thank you!!

      • Chris says:

        I’ve had a jar last in my fridge for a couple months. The flavor isn’t quite the same after that long, but if kept in the fridge I don’t know what would get this to grow mold. It’s pretty high salt and acid.

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