5 Sauces Every Self-Respecting Filipino Can’t Live Without

One thing that makes Filipino cuisine unique is that it allows you to mix and match sauces with practically any dish without being judged.

For instance, liempo can go with vinegar, toyo-mansi, lechon sauce, or whatever colored liquid that suits your taste buds.

Fact is no dish can ever be a complete gastronomic experience without a sawsawan. You don’t choose the sawsawan, the sawsawan chooses you.

Here are some of all-time favorite sauces and dips.

1. Mang Tomas All-Around Sarsa

The label doesn’t lie. Mang Tomas’ love affair with lechon belly isn’t exclusive. It also goes well with fried chicken, fried fish, litson manok, lumpiang shanghai, pork paksiw—even hotdog and, gasp, sinigang if you will.

All this thanks to the great roasted pork pioneer from La Loma: Tomas Delos Reyes. Aside from popularizing the pork lechon, his concocted lechon sarsa has now become a staple sawsawan at every dining table. No Mang Tomas, no life.

2. KFC gravy

KFC may not be a homegrown fast food franchise. But it’s only in the Philippines that we pour soup-like amounts of gravy on our plates.

And don’t get us started with unli gravy—that alone serves can make one survive a day with a cup of rice and one-piece chicken. We are so #sorrynotsorry for this.

3. Max’s Jufran Ketchup + Worcestershire Sauce

You can understand why many people are smitten by the hype of the Chicken-All-You-Can promotion. Aside from the obvious (keywords: chicken; all-you-can), the Jufran Banana Ketchup slash Worcestershire Sauce combo makes the whole package more attractive.

But did you know it was the American troops who first enjoyed the hospitality of Maximo Gimenez, who built Max’s in 1945? His niece, Ruby Trota, concocted the recipe that we’ve all come to love.

4. Aristocrat’s Peanut Sauce

A generous serving of char-grilled chicken meal isn’t complete without a cup of steamed Java rice and the legendary thick and sweet-salty peanut sauce—an exclusive trademark of the 80-year-old Aristocrat restaurant at Manila Bay.

Truly, Aristocrat has set the bar for chicken barbecue alongside other Filipino dishes. You can also you enjoy your peanut-sauce-lathered skewed goodness with cucumber and atchara on the side.

5. Mang Inasal chicken oil

The ultimate chicken barbecue experience is nothing without toyo-mansi, and we all know that. But what made the Bacolod original gain national popularity is when Mang Inasal food chain started reinventing the formula with its famous chicken oil.

Using your hands to debone and eat humongous servings of char-grilled chicken won’t cut it; these days soaking your meat and unlimited rice in chicken oil is way to be. Who cares about the health benefits of grilled meat when you’ve got a tub of oil at your disposal?