Culinary Ambassadors: The Philippines' All-Purpose Sauce
Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! (Find out more about CA or join here!) —The Mgmt.
If all-purpose sauce were alive, it would certainly roll with a hipster crew because it is the most ironic of Filipino condiments. With a name like "all-purpose," you'd expect it to be capable of everything from topping ice cream to pre-treating stains, but in most Filipino households, all-purpose sauce serves only one purpose: to accompany lechon.
The traditional accompaniment for roast pork, sarsa na lechon, is made from the roasted pig's liver mashed with vinegar, palm sugar, and copious amounts of garlic and pepper. The resulting sauce is addictively tangy and garlicky albeit labor intensive. All-purpose sauce is the commercial version of the traditional salsa, a modern convenience for busy Filipinos. Whether spicy or mild, the sauce is addictively tangy and garlicky and perfect not only for roast pork (lechon asado) but also its fried version (lechon kawali) or indeed any fried food that needs a tangy shot of flavor. And with bread crumbs subbing for the thickening power of liver, all-purpose is vegetarian-friendly.
But of course all-purpose sauce's magic is all in its interplay with the wonderful richness of roasted meat. But you need not treat this condiment as the Filipino answer to Heinz gravy. Combined with soy sauce, vinegar, cassia bark, star anise, chilies and fresh herbs, all-purpose sauce becomes the perfect braising liquid for leftover roasted meats, transforming Sunday's roast into Monday's paksiw.
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