Philippine condiments

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Toyomansi, a typical Filipino dipping sauce (sawsawan) composed of soy sauce and calamansi spiced with labuyo chilis

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.[1]


Filipino lumpia with an agre dulce dipping sauce

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.[1]

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.[2] For use with grilled fish, it typically further adds diced tomatoes, patis (fish sauce), or more rarely, bagoong (fermented shrimp or fish).[3]

Taba ng talangka, a paste made from crab roe and fat in garlic and oil

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).[1][4]

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.[3][5][6]

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.[7][8][9] 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.[10][11][12][13]

Palapa, a spicy Maranao condiment made from sakurab and various spices

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.[14]

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.[15][16]

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.[17][18]

List of Philippine condiments[edit]

The following is a list of condiments used in Filipino cuisine.

Sauces and pastes[edit]

Buro with mustard leaves and eggplant
  • 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.[14]
  • 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.[19]
  • 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.[9]
  • Sarsang talong (eggplant sauce) - a sour sauce made of grilled eggplant, garlic and vinegar. Used in cocidos and as a side dish.[9]
  • Sinamak - vinegar with labuyo chilis, langkawas, garlic, peppercorns, and white onion pickled for at least three days.[20]
  • 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.[2]

Pickles and fermented sauces[edit]

Atchara, made from pickled green papaya

Dessert sauces[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Calamansi is used in its partly ripe stage with soy sauce, vinegar, and/or labuyo chili as part of the most ubiquitous dipping sauce in Filipino cuisine, like in siomai

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "How to make the Best Sweet Spicy Sawsawan". Ang Sarap. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Toyo, Suka, at Sili". Maputing Cooking. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b "What's Your Favorite Sawsawan???". Market Manila. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Homemade Pinakurat". Mama's Guide Recipes. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Recipe: Sawsawang Toyo at Inihaw na Bangus, Tuna Belly at Ulo ng Salmon". Idol sa Kusina. GMA Network. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  6. ^ "S is for Sawsawan". Junblog. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  7. ^ Alejandro, Reynaldo G. (1985). The Philippine Cookbook. Penguin. p. 202. ISBN 9780399511448.
  8. ^ "Sweet and Sour Sauce (Agre Dulce)". Kusina ni Manding. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d Alejandro, Reynaldo G. (2015). Food of the Philippines. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9781462905454.
  10. ^ "Fishball Sauce Recipe". Foxy Folksy. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Fishballs Sauce ala Manong's Sauce Recipe". Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Filipino Street Food: Fishball Sauce Recipe". Maputing Cooking. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Fish Ball Sauce Recipe, Just Like Manong's". Certified Foodies. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b "How to make Homemade Siomai Sauce". Mama's Guide Recipes. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  15. ^ Santos, Kara (27 September 2018). "Home > Life Maranao condiment 'palapa' offers recipe for hope". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  16. ^ Morocco, Chris. "This Condiment Is Sweet, Spicy, Garlicky and Just Ridiculously Good". Healthyish. Bon Appétit. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Shrimp with Butter and Taba ng Talangka Recipe – Bisita Kusina Episode 2". Panlasang Pinoy. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  18. ^ Baes, Patricia. "Cole, Navarro's Regular, and Lorins: 3 Budget-Friendly Taba ng Talangka". Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  19. ^ Polistico, Edgie. "Palapa". Philippine Food Illustrated. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  20. ^ "How to Make Sinamak". Panlasang Pinoy. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  21. ^ Dagoon; et al. (1997). Culinary Arts II. Rex Bookstore, Inc. ISBN 978-971-23-2157-3.