Recipe help: thai egg roll dipping sauce
May 19, 2014 4:16 PM   Subscribe

So I have googled, I promise. But I'm not sure I'm finding the right recipes. I want to make a dipping sauce like the stuff that almost every Thai place around here (Portland area) serves with their fried egg rolls / spring rolls / veggie rolls.

The thing is, all the kinds I've loved have been clear, or almost completely colorless, and quite thin in consistency. They aren't at all red or purple, so I don't think they have plum sauce or sweet chili sauce in them. So most recipes online are not really what I'm looking for, I don't think.

I'd like a recipe for a mostly colorless dipping sauce that is quite sweet, very tangy (lots of some kind of vinegar), fairly thin, and slightly spicy (the heat is optional). Do you have one?
posted by peep to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Could it be a variation on the Vietnamese dipping sauce nuoc cham?
posted by mirepoix at 4:25 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried this recipe, but it looks similar to what I've had:
posted by kbuxton at 4:28 PM on May 19, 2014

I've made this one, which isn't as sweet as most recipes.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:42 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who makes egg rolls and serves them with a sauce that is very simple: equal parts vinegar and sesame oil, with a little bit of soy sauce and/or fish sauce, some grated garlic and ginger in it, and some finely diced chilli. Whisk it together and serve. Does that sound like what you are thinking of?
posted by lollusc at 4:47 PM on May 19, 2014

Another vote for nuoc cham, though it is definitely more conventional at Vietnamese places.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:57 PM on May 19, 2014

These guys are great, they might be able to help you.
posted by jbean at 5:04 PM on May 19, 2014

I don't know what is served with egg rolls in Portland, but the sauce you have described sounds very much like this lumpia dipping sauce.
posted by rekrap at 5:07 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

My family is from Thailand and we just used this sweet chili sauce that comes in a bottle. We just used it straight out of the bottle, and ate it with other stuff like grilled chicken too.
posted by pravit at 5:12 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can you name a couple places n town that have it? One of the menus online might have a vague but helpful description of the sauce.
posted by redsparkler at 5:26 PM on May 19, 2014

I've made this recipe and it turned out really quite tasty - sweet and very thin (I ended up adding thickener to it because otherwise it's like water). The colour is reddish in the jar, but nowhere near as dark as it appears in the photo - - but it's almost clear when it's in a bowl.
posted by VioletU at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2014

(I should add - you could cut the recipe down significantly and, if you store it in the fridge, you don't need to process it. Just make it, toss it in a clean container, and move on.)
posted by VioletU at 5:53 PM on May 19, 2014

My cookbook is packed in a box somewhere (I will go see if it is an obvious box momentarily), but there exists a perfect recipe in The Joy of Pickling [that is actually its name!] cookbook. I made a batch for family and friends once Christmas, and my borderline-Aspberger's brother, who was on a Thai food kick at the time, gave it an unusual seal of approval.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:52 PM on May 19, 2014

I stand corrected! The recipe is actually in the Ball Blue Book, not in Joy of Pickling, and you can access it online here and it is very very good. You will obviously need to scale down.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:58 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just got some of these at a Thai restaurant in Seattle. The menu described the dipping sauce as plum sauce, and sure enough, Thai plum sauce is a thin liquid with bits of pepper floating in it. I think this recipe is what you're looking for but I haven't made it myself.

(I think when she says pickled plum sauce in the ingredient list it means the pickling liquid)
posted by O9scar at 7:32 PM on May 19, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, tomorrow I'm going to buy ingredients & try some recipes. I'll follow up!
posted by peep at 10:57 PM on May 19, 2014

Response by poster: I was going to mention this in the question but forgot - I really don't think there was fish sauce in the ones I've had. I know it's in almost everything, but I can taste it in stir fries & curries and I don't taste it in the sauce.

First I made the lumpia sauce that rekrap posted. It was good, but that wasn't it - it was sweeter than what I was looking for, and not vinegary enough.

Next I made the Blue Ball recipe from Mudpuppie, and that was very similar! It's so simple, I actually feel a little silly.

I may try to track down the pickled plum sauce and preserved plums to make O9scar's linked recipe, but probably not for a while.

I checked the menus of the places I've eaten most recently, and here's how they describe their sauces:

1. Sweet & tangy sauce
2. Sweet and sour sauce
3. Tangy plum sauce (HOWEVER, they show a picture which is of a thicker pinkish sauce which is not what they actually serve with the egg rolls.)

posted by peep at 9:45 AM on May 21, 2014

Response by poster: Oh and I went back to check other recipes to make and I saw that VioletU posted that recipe first! Don't know how I missed that. And it is strange that the picture is so red. I cut it down to 1 cup sugar/1 cup vinegar & the only color is a faint orangish from the vinegar. Thanks again.
posted by peep at 1:57 PM on May 21, 2014

I meant to post an answer to this, but was at work and forgot to look for the book when I got home, being At the Table of Jim Thompson.

When I cook the recipes in this book, I often have an 'aha, that's how it gets that flavor' moment.

I haven't tried the plum sauce recipe, but it is:
3 cups/750ml water
1 1/2 cups/300g sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
3/4 cup/180ml vinegar
2 salted plums, deseeded
1 tbsp salted plum juice

Boil water in saucepan and add sugar, salt, vinegar. Stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins (or until thickened). Add salted plums and plum juice. Mash plums with spoon and cook for 2 mins.

The picture shows a clear pale yellow sauce, which is what I have seen served in restaurants in Thailand.
posted by AnnaRat at 9:32 PM on May 31, 2014

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