PATIS: Get To Know The Filipino Fish Sauce

Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Events & Special Occasions, Our Home Kitchens | 0 comments

PATIS: Get To Know The Filipino Fish Sauce

Back in the day (cue Ahmad) I had a non-Filipino friend in junior high who was dating a Pinay. He pulled me aside one day to “confess” that he hated the way patis smelled but it was so damn good with fried tilapia when his girlfriend’s family served it for dinner. Okaaaay. Didn’t really know what to do with that comment, but it’s one that I’m sure many Filipinos abroad have heard before. Patis (fish sauce) is a Filipino condiment/dipping sauce (sawsaw) that comes from the lovely end-result of fish being fermented with salt and water in large vats. It’s also a sauce with a distinct fishy smell that many non-Filipinos have found interesting, to say the least. Patis is often used in different Filipino recipes like tinola (chicken soup with young papaya) and as a dip usually paired with calamansi (the Filipino’s first citrus love) for a nice savory/tangy flavor. And it’s become an integral part of many a marinade and, for those who dare, salad dressing. Below is an easy marinade for chicken wings that I adore. It’s simple yet heavenly. If you’re new to patis purchasing, here are some brands to look for at your local Filipino/Asian market, or bigger grocery stores (patis is even sold in some Wal-Marts now): Rufina, Datu Puti and Lorins.

PATIS WINGS Ingredients:

  • 12 to 24 whole chicken wings (or buy them chopped into wings and drumlets)

Chicken Wing Marinade:

  • ½ Cup patis (please use less if you want to cut down on sodium)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (start with 1 and add more depending on how sour you want it); lemon and of course, calamansi, can be used as substitutes.
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powder (Lawry’s works)
  • ½ Tbsp. pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (add more garlic if you’re not on Team Edward)


Marinate the wings in above concoction for at least 2-3 hours (overnight is best). When ready to cook, deep fry in oil (peanut and olive work out quite well). Eat alone or with rice. Regular ketchup or banana ketchup are optional/delicious significant others. Afterward, drink some water and brush your teeth. You’re welcome.

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