Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

This sauce is the perfect mashup of cocktail sauce and nuoc cham and makes for a unique twist on shrimp cocktail! All the flavors are there, the sweet fish sauce, the tart lime juice, and the spicy horseradish kick! To take it up a notch, the shrimp are poached in a lemongrass and lime mixture so there is flavor added everywhere!

The inspiration for this recipe

I was eating a shrimp snack the other day, as one does, and I wanted to make a really quick cocktail sauce to go with it. After looking in the fridge and was surprised to see we were out of ketchup. I grabbed the sambal chili paste instead and mixed it up with some horseradish, lime juice, and worcestershire. Right away, I knew I was on to something good! I made it again the next day to test this recipe and take photos, and add nuoc cham ingredients to make it a true shrimp cocktail mashup.

Poach the shrimp

Fill a pan with some water and add lemongrass, lime, and salt. Bring to a simmer and add the shrimp. Cook a few minutes per side, and spread them out on a pan to cool in the fridge.

shrimp poaching in water

Make the nouc cham cocktail sauce

Start by making a super simple nouc cham base. Warm up some water, stir in sugar, and add the fish sauce.

start with fish sauce, water, and sugar

Next we are adding some ingredients that could go into both dips. Grated garlic, lime, and sambal chili paste. Cocktail sauce would probably be lemon, garlic and hot sauce, while nuoc cham would be lime, garlic, and fresh chilis.

then the cocktail sauce ingredients

Finally finish it off with traditional cocktail sauce ingredients. Worcestershire, horseradish, and ketchup.

Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

Serve the nuoc cham cocktail sauce

I served the shrimp on a bed of cucumber and carrot, and topped the cocktail sauce with some parsley and fresno chili.

Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

Look how flavorful this sauce looks! Every bite was begging me to come back for more! Shrimp cocktail is one of my favorite things, and this twist brings it to the next level!

Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

Twists on Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

You could adjust this to your tastes by adjusting the ratio of nuoc cham to cocktail sauce. If you are making it for the first time, you could add less fish sauce at first, then add more to your personal taste.

For more info on nuoc cham, the famous Vietnamese dipping sauce, check out this post.

For more great shrimp recipes, check out my shrimp avocado fresh rolls, these chimichurri shrimp burgers, or this grilled shrimp and broccoli gyoza!

Nuoc Cham Shrimp Cocktail

Cocktail sauce mixed with nuoc cham to create a super flavorful twist on shrimp cocktail
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 minutes
chill the shrimp1 hour
Total Time1 hour 12 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Keyword: Mash-Up, Spicy
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 40kcal



  • 20 jumbo shrimp (1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper


  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 teaspoon sambal chili paste
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • fresno chili for medium or bird eye for hot
  • parsley



  • add about 1 inch of water to a frying pan. Bring to a light simmer. Stir in the lemongrass, lime, and a good amount of salt.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan and stir. Cook about 1 minute per side, until they bend to a "C" shape, but remove before they curl all the way.
  • Spread onto a large sheet tray and put into the fridge to cool.


  • Warm the water in the microwave for about 1 minute until steaming. Stir in the sugar and allow to cool for 2 minutes
  • stir in the remaining ingredients and set in the fridge to cool.
  • finely mince the parsley and chili pepper. Serve the shrimp and the sauce, and put the pepper and parsley on top.


Calories: 40kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.05g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 545mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 89IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.2mg

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