I’ll tell you quickly what these three are: vinegar, fish sauce, and soy sauce. They are among the secret ingredients that make Asian dishes uniquely tasty.
Suka has been produced in our islands for centuries; in fact, Antonio Pigafetta (Magellan’s historian) wrote a detailed account of how Cebuanos made vinegar by fermenting coconut water.
We get our word suka from the Indonesian cuka (the c is pronounced as ch, thus chuka).
Bottles of locally produced vinegar sold at a roadside in Tanay, Rizal. May 2014.
Patis: Our source for this word is the Malay / Indonesian term petis udang, shrimp paste. Shrimp paste is also called bagoong in the Philippines.
Bagoong / fish paste is made by storing fresh fish and/or shrimp with salt until it ferments. When the fish and/or shrimp is completely processed, a clear liquid rises above the fermented solids; this is the fish sauce, the patis