Ulam Recipes Using Tomato Sauce

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The Filipino menu of favorite ulam dishes is rife with recipes that include this ingredient: tomato sauce

What is tomato sauce? 

Tomato sauce at its most basic is essentially pureed ripe tomatoes. It's commonly seasoned even if it's just a little bit. Ripe tomatoes are cut up and then simmered until reduced and thickened. This makes it not only more concentrated in flavor but also makes it more shelf-stable, ensuring that it lasts longer than if it were kept whole.

This is different from tomato juice where only the most liquid part of the tomatoes is used and the solids are strained out. Tomato sauce is made by liquefying the entire tomato into an almost liquid state that still contains the fleshy part as well as the juice. That's why tomato sauce has an almost grainy, sauce-like texture whereas tomato juice is smoother, more liquid texture.

This is also different from tomato paste which is an even more concentrated form of tomato sauce. This paste has a more potent tasting tomato flavor.

Photo by Riell Santos
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How do you use tomato sauce? 

Tomato sauce is easy to use! Just add to the dish right before you want to simmer the dish to develop its flavors. You can actually combine tomato sauce and tomato paste if you want a more complex tomato flavor. You want to use tomato sauce when you are cooking a tomato-based or soup-like dish. It blends well with the other ingredients and doesn't need to be simmered for too long to release its flavors. 


Delicious ulam recipes are just waiting to be made using a packet of tomato sauce! Here are some ideas on how to make a satisfying meal with tomatoes: 

Photo by Riell Santos

Menudo Recipes  

When it comes to tomato sauce stews, one of the easiest is the menudo. This fast-cooking stew is fast because the pork chunks are cut small. The flavors are created with umami-packed ingredients which include tomato sauce. The simmering is to tenderize the pork as well as help meld the flavors. The resulting stew is flavorful with a rich umami-packed tomato-based sauce. 


Feel free to make it even faster to cook by swapping out the meat for chicken or by making it even beefier in taste by using beef chunks. This one ingredient swap can totally change the flavor of the dish. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

Afritada Recipes 

The afritada is one of those dishes that makes the tomato-forward dish. It's the main ingredient despite playing a supporting role to the chicken pieces in the dish. The chicken may be the food that you first see but the flavor that makes this dish delicious is the tomato-based sauce that is flavored by the chicken.


You can also swap out the chicken for pork as well if you're craving pork. 

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3 Chicken Tomato Curry Recipe 

If you love creamy sauces, you can try this creamy tomato curry recipe. This may be a curry dish but the flavors that help the spices meld together seamlessly is the coconut milk with the tomato sauce. It's a delicious combination that allows the spices to still be the star of the dish but in a sauce that's creamy with a tang to it that elevates its delicious taste. 


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4 Pochero Recipes

A pochero recipe is a dish that has a great combination of contrasting ingredients. It has the sweetness from the saba banana, a delicious meaty taste from both pork and chicken pieces, and it's simmered in a luscious tomato sauce. This is the classic Tagalog version. You can even make it chunkier by adding a can of pork and beans to the mix to elevate the sweetness and give it a slightly smokiness from the canned beans. 


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5 Pinoy-Style Spaghetti Recipes

If there's one recipe that everyone will be eager to sample at first glance, it's spaghetti. Enjoyed and eaten with gusto at every party and gathering, the spaghetti doesn't need to be super sweet but if you do want to make it sweet but don't have spaghetti sauce on hand, a pack of tomato sauce is all you need to still make your sweet-style spaghetti sauce a reality. 


Sugar may be all you need to make it sweet but you can also try mimicking the fast-food version or just mix up the spaghetti sauce with tomato sauce to give it a more complex flavor. Don't forget the hot dogs! 


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.

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