SUKA, PATIS, and TOYO: Our Dipping Sauces


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).

KODAK Digital Still Camera
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

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