PINAY LIFESTYLE: Filipino dishes not complete without the "sawsawan" (dips) - The Complete "Sawsawan" Guide: Bulacan, Philippines

From the pages of Philippine Food & Life by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Mila S. Enriquez & Dez Bautista share the complete sawsawan guide from the Philippine Region of Bulakan.  Bulakan has many specialties such as litson Bocaue (roasted pork), a pan-fried litson; sukang Paombong, a nipa (palm) vinegar, and many more.  These specialty sawsawan recipes have been passed down from generations to generations. 

Basic Filipino Sawsawan (Dips)

  1. Patis:  sauce from alamang (shrimp); or from small fish.
  2. Heko: residue of fish or shrimp paste (dark sauce).
  3. Bagoong: fish or shrimp paste.
  4. Suka (vinegar): from nipa (made from palm called sukang Paombong*); from coconut; from sugarcane; from Butuan** banana; or from pineapple.

Combination of Dips or Sawsawan

  • Mainly for Fish
    • Fish Paksiw: tomatoes and Tagalog onions (red onions) or blanched tomatoes and soy sauce
    • Fried or boiled fish: tomatoes and bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
    • Sinigang na dalaga: tomatoes, Tagalog onions, bagoong alamang
    • Smoked tinapa (salted, sun-dried fish): tomatoes, salted red eggs and wansuy (aromatic coriander)
    • Fried Fish (or pork): fresh tomatoes or roasted tomatoes, Tagalog onions, bagoong alamang or wansuy
    • Roasted Fish: green tamarind cooked inside roasting fish, with patis (fish sauce); guava and onion roasted inside fish
  • For Meat: 
    • Pork sitsaron (rinds or cracklings): blanched tomatoes, vinegar, bagoong alamang, garlic
    • Dried beef or venison: vinegar and siling labuyo
    • Fried chicken and broiled pork chops: soy sauce and siling labuyo (wild small chili pepper)
    • Litsong Kawali (pan-roasted pork): vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic or sili
    • Pork sinigang (pork stew) with bananas: Retrieve bananas, mash, put patis.
    • Beef putsero (beef stew): finely chopped tomatoes, sauteed in garlic, onions, and salt
  • For Vegetables:
    • Okoy (fried vegetable patty): vinegar, salt and peppercorns
    • Boiled or steamed eggplant, okra, cabbage, or string beans: fish bagoong sauteed in garlic with quartered tomatoes and onions
    • Native lettuce: Tagalog dressing of vinegar, salt, pepper and vetsin (MSG)

*Paombong, a municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines famous for their nipa (palm) vinegar

**Butuan banana is a seeded banana