MAKES: About 1/2 cup

TIME: 15 minutes

This dead-easy sauce is even better than it might seem, because you can completely change the way it tastes just by replacing the basil with cilantro, mint, lemongrass, lime leaves, or even a different type of basil. If you want to make the flavors much more complex, add the optional ingredients, but it’s delicious and well balanced as is.

Any of the variations would make a fantastic dipping sauce for Vietnamese Summer Rolls.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 or 2 fresh Thai chiles, seeded and thinly sliced (see Chile Paste, 8 Ways)

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai

Whisk all the ingredients with 2 tablespoons water until the sugar is dissolved. Let sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Variations

Cilantro Dipping Sauce. Substitute fresh cilantro for the basil.

Mint Dipping Sauce. Substitute fresh mint leaves for the basil.

Lemongrass Dipping Sauce. Replace the basil with 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled, trimmed, and minced.

Lime Leaf Dipping Sauce. Replace the basil with 1 lime leaf, minced, or the grated zest of a lime.