Brighten up ordinary fish, protein, vegetables, and your table.

I find that Asian-inspired dipping sauces add interest to our basic meals of vegetables and protein.  They are easy to make and store well in the fridge.

Soy Dipping Sauce, Samin Nosrat


1 clove garlic, finely grated

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Korean chile flakes

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed yuzu or lemon juice

6 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced


    1. Place garlic, ginger and chile flakes in a medium bowl. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavors to come together.
    2. Add soy sauce, water, oil, yuzu or lemon juice and scallions. Whisk thoroughly to combine.

Soy Dipping Sauce

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce , Nuoc Cham


½ cup Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons minced hot red chili, such as Thai, serrano, jalapeño, or Fresno, or Asian red chili paste

Shredded carrot, optional


In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup water, fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and garlic. Add minced chili to taste.   Vietnamese Dipping Sauce – Nuoc Cham

Dumpling Dipping Sauce with Chili Oil, The Spruce Eats


For the Chile Oil:

1 teaspoon chili powder (or chile flakes)

2 tablespoons cooking oil of your choice

For the Sauce:

2 small cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon chile oil, or more to taste


If you decide to make your own chile oil, you will start with that step. Otherwise, skip ahead to directions for the dipping sauce.

Make the Chile Oil

    1. Gather the ingredients.
    2. Put the Chili powder or chile flakes into a heatproof bowl.
    3. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
    4. Pour the hot oil into the chili powder. Let it cool.
    5. The chile oil can be stored in the fridge in an airtight jar or container if not used immediately.

Make the Dipping Sauce

    1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of the hot chile oil. Whisk until well combined.
    2. Serve with your favorite dumplings.


The dipping sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Serve the sauce in individual small dishes for each guest.  This eliminates “double-dipping”.


            Add thin strips of ginger or chopped green scallions as a crunchy garnish.

            Stir in 1 tsp of brown sugar for a hint of sweetness.

Substitute ponzu for the soy sauce and mirin for the Chinese rice wine vinegar for a Japanese ‘spin’.

Swap the chile oil for nam prik pao (Thai chile paste) and add a splash of lime juice for Thai style sauce.

Thai Dumpling Dipping Sauce with Cilantro, Serious Eats


8 teaspoons finely minced garlic (about 8 medium cloves)

4 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

4 tablespoons fresh juice from about 4 limes

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems

1 teaspoon chile flakes


    1. Combine garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, cilantro, and chile flakes in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Serve.

Thai Dumpling Dipping Sauce with Cilantro


Vietnamese Peanut Sauce Drive Me Hungry


¼ cup creamy peanut butter – – see Recipe Note 1

¼ cup lite coconut milk – – see Recipe Note 2; can substitute with water

1 ½ Tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 ½ Tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon chopped peanuts – – for garnish

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce – – (optional)


Combine all the ingredients (except for the chopped peanuts) in a medium-size bowl and mix it together until the peanut sauce is smooth and creamy. Depending on how thick your peanut butter is, you may need to add more coconut milk or water to get the desired consistency.

Garnish with chopped peanuts and chili garlic sauce if desired. Makes about ¾ cup of sauce. 

Recipe Notes

    1. I used all-natural peanut butter for this recipe. If your peanut butter has added sugar, you may not need to add more sugar. I recommend tasting first before adding additional sugar.
    2. You can use any variety of coconut milk but full-fat coconut milk will make the sauce thicker so you may need to thin it out with water. If you don’t have coconut milk, feel free to substitute with water.
    3. Store leftovers in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
    4. Serve with fresh vegetarian summer rolls. 
    5. This recipe is featured in 3 Classic Spring Roll Dipping Sauces.

Spicy Asian Chimichurri Sauce, Drive Me Hungry

Chimichurri, made with parsley, is usually associated with South American condiment or marinade, but this recipe gives it an Asian twist.


3 stalks scallions

½ medium shallot

3 cloves garlic

1-inch ginger

½ teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes

1⅔ Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon fish sauce – optional; can substitute with soy sauce or add more salt

1 jalapeno – optional for spice

1 Thai chili pepper – optional for spice

salt to taste

Fresh Herbs – total 1¾ cups

½ cup parsley – tightly packed (stems can be included)

½ cup cilantro – tightly packed (stems can be included)

½ cup basil – tightly packed

¼ cup mint leaves – tightly packed


⅔ cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon sesame oil


Add all the ingredients to a food processor except the olive oil. Pulse the food processor a few times until everything is coarsely chopped. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing a few more times until the olive oil is combined. Add salt to taste. Serve with your favorite protein or spoon over grilled veggies.

      Recipe Notes

    • You can substitute any combination of fresh herbs that add up to 1 ¾ cups.
    • Makes 1.5 cups
    • Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

           Spice Asian Chimichurri Sauce

Hoisin Dipping Sauce

This is sometimes called Chinese Barbecue Sauce and it is included in many Chinese take-out orders.


1 tablespoon oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped

6 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 drops sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoons chile paste, or to taste

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped peanuts


    1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high to high heat.
    2. Add the garlic and ginger to the wok.
    3. Stir-fry briefly until aromatic.
    4. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the other ingredients.
    5. Heat through and remove from the stove. Cool.
    6. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.