Tag Archive for philippine street food

Fishball Sauce ala Manong Pushcart

Yesterday a friend was bugging me on how to make sweet spicy fish ball sauce. You know the kind that the industrious Manong pushes in his cart all day. It is supposed to be a secret, but for the sake of our friendship and in the true spirit of sharing  food that Filipinos grew up with, I relented. So here is the recipe. Ingredients for the brown sauce:
  • half-cup brown sugar (or adjust according to taste,)
  • 1/3 cup Datu Puti vinegar (it has to be this brand if you want authentic taste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 spoonfuls of all purpose starch diluted in 1/4 cup water
  • 3-5 siling labuyo (pepper), chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 full red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt (garlic salt is optional)
  1. In a bowl mix together the brown sugar, water, black pepper, and salt. Mix until the sugar and salt grains melt.
  2. In a deep saucepan, put a few drops of cooking oil. Pan fry the onion until translucent.
  3. Then pour the mixture into the sauce pan. Let boil.
  4. After it boils put the siling labuyo and diluted starch into the mixture. Whisk continuously until it boils and thickens.
  5. Finally, pour the vinegar into the thickened mix. (You may add water to adjust to desired thickness and taste.)
  6. Your sauce is ready. Set aside and start frying your fish balls.
In New York, fish balls (or basically all sorts of balls/flavors: squid, beef, chicken, cuttle, tendon, veggie, roe, scallion, etc) are available  in Asian-Chinese groceries. They are also available in small single-flavor packets  or sold by the pound. I usually prefer buying them by the pound to have a variety of flavors.

In sticks waiting to be enjoyed

Aside from  the standard sweet spicy sauce, I also like dipping the fish balls in a bowl of vinegar sauce. The suggested mixture:
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 spoon white sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 siling labuyo, optional
  • 2 spoonfuls of lemon or calamansi juice
  • 1 spoon chopped red onion, fresh
So there goes.  It feels like bringing the much-missed fish ball cart to New York.

The ubiquitous fish ball cart, a Philippine street staple

But the real secret? Great company while you eat your blues ....err ... balls away.

Actual picture of one of the fishball parties my friends and I had this summer