If nuoc cham, the all-purpose Vietnamese condiment, isn’t already in your bag of tricks (or your vocabulary—it’s pronounced nuke chom), it should be. Bright, tangy, and packed with umami, it enlivens stir-fries and grilled fish, provides a flavor-rich marinade for meats, and makes a great dipping sauce for spring rolls. “It’s fresh, preservative-free, and super, super easy to make,” says Mary Nguyen Aregoni, founder of the beloved Vietnamese mini-chain Saigon Sisters. Oh, and it’s delicious on salads, too.

Mary Nguyen Aregoni’s Nuoc Cham

Serves:2½ cups
Total Time:10 minutes

1 cup Warm water
½ cup Sugar
½ cup Fresh lime juice
⅓ cup Fish sauce (Aregoni recommends Red Boat, available at most groceries)
1 tsp. Minced garlic
2 Fresh Thai or serrano chilies, chopped
1 tsp. Minced ginger

1.Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves.

2.Let sit at room temperature for an hour before using.

Tip: Nuoc cham will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.