MAKES: About 1/2 cup

TIME: 15 minutes

Based on the classic fish sauces of Southeast Asia Thai nam pla is the best known but without the fish. The sea green (dulse) helps maintains the salty pungency of the real thing, but if you don’t have any handy, you won’t go far wrong by combining the remaining ingredients.

1 tablespoon crumbled or ground dulse (see The Sea Green Lexicon; optional)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

4 limes

1 tablespoon palm sugar (see Rice Syrup (Rice Honey)) or brown sugar

Whisk the dulse, garlic, and soy with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl.

Grate the zest of 2 limes into the same bowl, then juice all 4 limes and add the juice. Add the palm sugar and stir well. Let sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Variations

Thai-Style Dipping Sauce. Usually called nam prik and ideal for spring rolls, grilled tofu, or drizzled over steamed vegetables: Add anywhere from 1 to 10 hot fresh chiles (preferably Thai), minced, or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes to taste and a tablespoon or so of finely shredded carrot.

Vietnamese-Style Dipping Sauce. Aka nuoc cham gung: Add 1 or 2 hot fresh chiles (preferably Thai), minced, or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes to taste, and a tablespoon of peeled and minced ginger. Squeeze in the juice of another lime, too.