Whats is more Filipino than the sawsawan?
Here are a few tips and facts on how to master this culinary oddity
The concept of sawsawan (sauce or dip) is odd indeed. Unlike western cooking where chefs could berate diners for ordering catsup and salt to make a dish more palatable, Asians are even encouraged to eat dishes with accompanying dips that are as elaborate or as simple as the main dish dictates.
Among Filipinos, the Bulakeños have one of the most well developed sawsawan tradition, which some dishes specifically calling for subtle concoctions of native sauces and vegetables even! Here are some tips, ideas and hints on which sawsawan goes best with what.
Whats in a dip?
A lot. The sawsawan base may use patis or fish sauce (from alamang or fish), heko (a residue of fish and shrimp paste), bagoong (fermented fish or shrimp) and vinegar from nipa, kaong, sugarcane and coconut water.
Which dish goes with what dip?
There are certain dips for fish, shellfish and crustaceans; meat; vegetables, noodles and fruits. Heres a rundown:
Sawsawan for fish:
- Fish paksiw (fish simmered in a souring agent) goes well with tomatoes and Tagalog onions; blanched tomatoes and soy sauce: patis (fish sauce) and a bit of lard (taba ng baboy).
- Fried or broiled fish: tomatoes and bagoong alamang; atsarang papaya (pickled, shredded papaya); atsarang dampalit; burong mustasa or pickled mustard leaves and tomatoes with beaten egg; burong mustasa with tahure (soy bean paste) braised with finely sliced tomatoes; relish of okra or eggplant with vinegar and bagoong alamang; ripe, sliced señorita guava with patis; blanched bignay fruit; blanched digman (a seaweed) with vinegar.