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A south-east asian sauce that often accompanies fried foods. Its ingredients vary, but are based on mild red chillis, garlic, fish sauce, vinegar, refined sugar and water.

It's easy to make at home, and tastes better than most bottled varieties. Slice the chillis and pound the solid ingredients in a pestle (or use a "wand" food processor). You can add some ginger or galangal at this stage if you fancy. Add two teaspoons of fish sauce, a cup of vinegar, a cup of water, and four desertspoons of sugar. Reduce in a small saucepan until thick and sticky!

Goes great with potato wedges and sour cream or with hokkien noodles, tunafish and veggies in the wok.

This Thai sauce will always be found next to street side hawker grilled chicken in its homeland. It is fairly easy to find bottled in Asian markets, but to my palate it is way too laden with vegetable gum, an artificial thickening agent, making it gluggy and unappetizing. Instead, try making your own.

As ole simonc says, it is a pinch to make at home and is deliciously addictive not only with the aforementioned chicken, but with any grilled dish (seafood, tofu, or spring rolls).

Here is a slight variation on the recipe above, it results in a thinner sauce than the bottles, and all the tastier for it.

Ingredients

Method

Finely chop the first three ingredients, or pound in a mortar and pestle. Combine with the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Add a small splash of fish sauce to season. Let cool, then serve.

The coconut vinegar is the secret ingredient, it has a mellow, tropical sourness. If you have trouble finding some, don't simply substitute white vinegar, it is way too harsh and acidic. Try 125 ml white vinegar mixed with 125 ml (½ cup) water and a squeeze of lime juice.

Fun. Everyone's got a version of this sauce: sydnius has a Vietnamese version at nuoc cham, and I have one too. However you make it, at its best it's an intoxicating melange of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour flavours, much prized in Thai cooking, which is how I learned it. Here's what you'll need to make it like anthropod does:

Heat the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Then reduce the heat and simmer (don't boil) for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, till slightly thickened. Add chili garlic sauce and let cool.

Some people add strips of carrot or coarsely chopped peanuts to this sauce before they serve it.

In Thailand, as the venerable sneff says, this sauce often accompanies grilled chicken. In restaurants here in Toronto, it's almost always served with fried spring rolls or fresh salad rolls.

This simple sauce will keep well in the fridge for a week or so. It may not last that long, though: it's addictive, and you may find yourself spooning it over everything in sight.

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