The generic term for condiments in the Filipino cuisine is sawsawan (Philippine Spanish: sarsa). Unlike sauces in other Southeast Asian regions, most sawsawan are not prepared beforehand, but has to be assembled on the table according to the preferences of the diner.
The most common type of sawsawan is the toyomansi (or toyo't kalamansi), which is a mixture of soy sauce, calamansi, and native labuyo chilis. Sometimes vinegar and patis (fish sauce) may also be added. It is typically used with roasted meats.
A similar dipping sauce used for grilled meats like inihaw is toyo, suka, at sili (literally "soy sauce, vinegar, and chili"). It is made with soy sauce, vinegar, labuyo chilis, diced onions and garlic; and sometimes sugar and black pepper. For use with grilled fish, it typically further adds diced tomatoes, patis (fish sauce), or more rarely, bagoong (fermented shrimp or fish).
The simplest dipping sauces, however is vinegar mixed with another ingredient like labuyo chili (sukang may sili), garlic (suka't bawang), soy sauce (sukang may toyo), and so on. But this can be elaborated further by adding a range of spices and even fruits, resulting in dipping sauces like pinakurat or sinamak (spiced vinegar).
All of these are not set recipes, however, and can use ingredients and proportions interchangeably according to what is available and the preferences of the diner. There are numerous combinations. Other notable ingredients added to these kinds of sawsawan include shallots, whole black peppercorns, sugar, siling haba, wansoy (cilantro), ginger, and so on. Sawsawan are also unique in that they can function as marinades.
Some sawsawan need to be prepared beforehand. The most common example is the traditional Filipino sweet and sour sauce called agre dulce (or agri dulci) which is made from cornstarch, salt, sugar, and tomato or banana ketchup. It commonly adds labuyo chilis as well, in which case it becomes a sweet chili sauce. It is the traditional dipping sauces of fried dishes like lumpia or okoy. A similar sauce used for fried street food appetizers is known simply as "manong's sauce". It is made with flour or cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, labuyo chilis, ground pepper, and muscovado or brown sugar. Lime or lemon-flavored carbonated softdrinks may also be used.
Another spicy condiment used for street food is the "siomai sauce" or "chili garlic sauce". It is usually eaten with Philippine siomai. It uses minced labuyo chilis, garlic, and powdered dried shrimp or finely minced meat simmered in water and then oil. It is typically spritzed with calamansi before eating.
Among the Maranao people, another notable condiment is the palapa, a very spicy condiment made from sakurab (native scallions), ginger, turmeric, and labuyo chilis. It is an ubiquitous accompaniment to Maranao meals.
For seafood dishes, another common condiment is taba ng talangka (also called aligue, "roe", colloquially). This is a savory paste derived from crab roe or fat preserved in garlic and oil, with other ingredients like calamansi, vinegar, and others. It is typically sauteed and eaten with shellfish or over fried garlic rice.
List of Philippine condiments
Sauces and pastes
- Agre dulce - a sweet and sour sauce made from cornstarch, salt, sugar, and tomato or banana ketchup.
- Banana ketchup - a sweet, red condiment made primarily of bananas.
- Chili garlic sauce (or siomai sauce) - a spicy condiment usually eaten with siomai. It uses labuyo chilis, minced garlic, and powdered dried shrimp or finely minced meat simmered in water and then oil. It is typically spritzed with calamansi before eating.
- Ketchup and mayonnaise sauce - combines mayonnaise and banana ketchup. Similar to fry sauce but uses banana ketchup instead of tomato ketchup
- Lechon sauce - also known as liver sauce or breadcrumb sauce made out of ground liver or liver pâté, vinegar, sugar, and spices. A sweet, tangy light-brown sauce used in roasts and the pork dish called lechon.
- Manong's sauce or fishball sauce - made with flour or cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, labuyo chilis, ground pepper, and muscovado or brown sugar. Lime or lemon-flavored carbonated softdrinks may also be used.
- Palapa - a spicy Maranao condiment consisting of finely chopped sakurab (white scallions), ginger, labuyo chili, and grated coconut cooked briefly and stored. It can also be dried. It is usually sautéed before using, or added as an ingredient to other dishes.
- Pinakurat - vinegar with fish sauce, labuyo chilis, peppercorns, ginger, garlic, and other ingredients
- Sarsang miso (miso tomato sauce) - a sauce made from oil, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, miso, vinegar, and ground black pepper.
- Sarsang talong (eggplant sauce) - a sour sauce made of grilled eggplant, garlic and vinegar. Used in cocidos and as a side dish.
- Sinamak - vinegar with labuyo chilis, langkawas, garlic, peppercorns, and white onion pickled for at least three days.
- Sukang may sili - cane or coconut vinegar spiced with labuyo peppers.
- Sukang may toyo - cane or coconut vinegar with soy sauce. This may also contain the very hot labuyo peppers or onions. Sukang may toyo is used in the pork dish crispy pata.
- Toyo't Kalamansi (sometimes referred to simply as toyomansi) - soy sauce with kalamansi lime juice.
- Toyo, suka, at sili (literally "soy sauce, vinegar, and chilis") - soy sauce with vinegar and labuyo chilis. Usually with diced onions and garlic and sometimes sugar and black pepper. A common dipping sauce for grilled dishes like inihaw.
Pickles and fermented sauces
- Atchara - a sweet pickled papaya relish. Also used as a side dish.
- Ensaladang mangga - green mango relish with tomatoes and onions.
- Bagoong - fermented anchovy paste or shrimp paste, particularly popular in the dish kare-kare, binagoongan, and binagoongang kangkong.
- Buro, tapay - fermented rice, which can be use red yeast rice (angkak). Used mainly as a condiment for steamed/ boiled vegetables like okra, sweet potato leaves (talbos ng kamote), eggplant, etc.
- Patis. Sometimes spiced with labuyo peppers, or kalamansi lime juice, in which case it is called patismansi.
- Taba ng talangka - fermented paste derived from the salted roe and aligue (reddish or orange crab "fat") of the river swimming crabs (talangka) sautéed in garlic and preserved in oil.
- Arnibal - syrup made from sugarcane molasses or palm sugar (panutsa)
- Latik - (Visayan usage only) a thick syrup made from coconut milk and sugar.
Flavoring ingredients and seasonings
- Achuete (Annatto oil) - annatto seeds fried in oil which typically turn dishes a bright orange
- Asín tibuok
- Biasong or samuyao (small-fruited papeda)
- Kamias (bilimbi)
- Kasubha (safflower)
- Kunig or luyang dilaw (turmeric)
- Langkawas (galangal ginger)
- Tanglad (lemongrass)
- Calamansi - small Philippine limes
- Sakurab (sibujing)
- Labuyo chili - small native chili cultivar
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