Guide to Pinoy Sawsawan
Make sure to stock up on these classic Filipino condiments on your next trip to the grocery:
Vinegar or suka is a staple in the Filipino kitchen, mostly thanks to its high levels of acidity and overall versatility. Most Filipinos keep a bottle of either distilled white vinegar or cane vinegar in their kitchens to use either as a condiment to go with fried foods like longganisa and tuyo, or as a main flavoring agent in dishes like adobo, kinilaw and even atchara.
PATIS (Fish sauce)
Most Filipinos often use pungent fish sauce or patis in place of salt to season their food, such as soups and stews like tinola and sinigang, in order to add another layer of flavor. Patis is made by collecting the juices from barrels of slowly fermenting anchovies.
TOYO (Soy Sauce)
Originally from China, soy sauce or toyo is a deep brown sauce made by fermenting soy beans with wheat and salt, and pressing them through a sieve. Thanks to its salty umami flavor, soy sauce is often paired with sharper, sour condiments such as calamansi, red chillies or vinegar and is most commonly used in making dishes such as adobo.
A staple at many parties and fiestas, Lechon sauce is a thick, sweet condiment made of finely chopped liver, vinegar, sugar and pepper. It is usually served alongside lechon (hence the name) and can be used to make lechong paksiw often using leftover lechon.
SWEET CHILI SAUCE
While not necessarily an exclusively Filipino condiment, sweet chilli sauce is fast becoming a local staple. Originally from Thailand, this very sweet and slightly spicy sauce pairs well with oilier fried Filipino foods like lumpiang shanghai and whole fried fish.
A firm crowd favorite, banana ketchup is a sweet and spicy bright red sauce made of bananas and a handful of spices. Often served with tortang talong and barbecued pork, banana ketchup was said to have been invented in the 1940s when there weren't enough tomatoes to produce regular tomato ketchup.
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Photo by Riell Santos