Many Filipino dishes are accompanied by a selection of sawsawan, dipping sauces or condiments. Common condiments include fish sauce or soy sauce mixed with kalamansi juice, or vinegar mixed with crushed garlic or chillies.
Tamarind is available in pods, blocks, or as a concentrate. To extract the most flavour, break off a piece of tamarind, wrap in foil and roast in the oven for a few minutes.
Rice is a basic staple, always cooked fresh and steamed. The water used to rinse the rice (before cooking) is later used to impart flavour and thicken soups. Leftover rice is also reserved, to be fried with garlic and oil for a dish called sinangag.
Vinegar is one of the main preservatives used in Filipino cooking and therefore dishes cooked adobo or sinigang-style preserve well due to the effect of vinegar. Both these dishes will keep for several days in the fridge and are often made in large batches, then reheated.
Spanish-influenced Filipino dishes are often served for festive occasions. Known as “fiesta” food, these dishes typically involve more work to prepare and include more expensive ingredients.