A Filipino dipping sauce primarily made with vinegar, soy sauce, and onions. It’s tangy, a little bit salty with a hint of sweetness.

Filipino dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, onion, garlic and chillies.

Best Lechon Kawali and Crispy Pata Sauce

This is one of the best sauce you can pair with lechon kawali, crispy pata, and lechon belly. As we all know greasy foods often have a heavy and rich flavor profile. This tangy dipping sauce, with its acidity, help balance out the richness by providing a bright and zesty flavor. In Filipino, we call it pangtanggal umay!

dipping sauce with crispy pork belly.


Here are the ingredients you need to make this Filipino dipping sauce or what we call sawsawan:

brown sugar, onion, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, chillies, water
  • Vinegar – for best results, I recommend using cane vinegar, white wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, and distilled vinegar.
  • Soy sauce – use Filipino soy sauce or regular soy sauce which you can buy in most Asian stores and online.
  • Red onion gives the vinegar sauce a tint of pink color. Hence, it is always recommended when making this Filipino vinegar sauce.
  • Garlic – Use freshly chopped garlic. I don’t recommend substituting it with garlic powder.
  • Red chilies – To make the sauce spicy, use Thai red chilies or siling labuyo
  • Banana peppers – Also called siling haba in the Philippines. This gives the sauce a nice aroma and a hint of tang.
  • Brown sugar – Gives sweetness and lessens the intensity of vinegar flavor.
  • Water – Adding water helps to dilute the strong acidity of vinegar, making the sauce more palatable and balanced in flavor.

How to Make It

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl or mason jar. Whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Let the sauce stand for around 30 minutes, best overnight in the fridge. This will marinate the raw onions and will make the sauce even more flavorful!

Do a taste test before serving and adjust the seasonings as needed.

dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, onion, garlic and chillies.

How to Serve Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce

Give the sauce a quick stir then pour into a serving dish or small individual dipping bowls. Arrange the fried food, such as lechon kawali, crispy pata, or any other fried delicacies, on a platter or plate.

Position the dish of soy vinegar dipping sauce beside the fried food. You can garnish the sauce with some chopped spring onions for added visual appeal.

chopped crispy pork belly.

💭 Top Tip

When serving with lechon kawali and crispy pata, add more brown sugar for a delicious flavor contrast. Trust me, it will make your favorite Filipino fried food extra delicious!

That’s it! Dip and enjoy!

Here are some other food suggestions to enjoy with this Filipino dipping sauce:

Shelf Life and Storage

This soy-vinegar dipping sauce can last up to 3 months if refrigerated properly.

Store in an air-tight glass jar or bottle. Refrigerate to keep the flavor fresh. Remember it should be air-tight as the onion smell can get stronger the longer it marinates.

Frequently asked questions

What does sawsawan mean?

Sawsawan” is a Filipino term that refers to a variety of dipping sauces, condiments, or flavorings used to enhance the taste of a particular dish. It is often served on the side or as a complement to various Filipino dishes, such as grilled meats, fried foods, or street food.

Sawsawan can come in different forms, including vinegar-based sauces, soy-based sauces, chili sauces, or combinations of various ingredients like calamansi (a citrus fruit similar to lime), garlic, onions, and spices.

These sauces are meant to add extra flavor, tanginess, or spiciness to the food, allowing individuals to customize the taste according to their preferences. Sawsawan plays a significant role in Filipino cuisine by providing a range of dipping sauces that elevate the dining experience and add a burst of flavor to the dishes.

Latest recipes you need to try…

Dipping sauce made of soy sauce and vinegar with onions, garlic and sugar.

Soy Sauce and Vinegar Dipping Sauce

5 from 2 votes
A Filipino dipping sauce primarily made with vinegar and soy sauce. It's tangy, a little bit salty with a hint of sweetness from sugar and raw onions.
Servings2 servings
preparation time5 minutes
Total cooking time5 minutes



  • ½ cup cane vinegar (note 1)
  • 3 tsp Filipino soy sauce (note 2)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (or white, add more if preferred)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • red and green chilies (chopped, to taste)
  • 1 tbsp water (note 2)


  • 2 cup cane vinegar (note 1)
  • ¼ cup Filipino soy sauce (note 2)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (or white, add more if preferred)
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 pieces green chili (siling haba/pang-sinigang) ( sliced)
  • red chili (to taste)
  • 3-4 tablespoon water (note 2)


  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  • Let it stand for 30 minutes, but best overnight. Do a taste test. Add more sugar or water based on preference. Start with 1 tsp at a time. Note that water will help lessen the sourness of the sauce. Use less, if preferred.
  • Pour in an airtight glass container and keep in the fridge until needed.
  • Serve with lechon kawali, lechon pork belly roll, BBQ, fried fish and other seafood.

Recipe Notes & Tips:

  1. Vinegar options: Distilled Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar, and Rice Vinegar.
  2. Soy Sauce: If using regular soy sauce like Kikkoman, use less water as it’s less salty than Filipino soy sauce.
  3.  To Serve with Lechon Kawali/Crispy Pata – add more brown sugar for a delicious flavor contrast
  4. Storage: This sauce can be made days ahead. Store in an air-tight glass jar and refrigerate until needed. Remember it should be air-tight as the onion smell can get stronger the longer it marinates.
  5. Serving: calculation is based on the small batch ingredients
  6. Shelf-life: This can last up to 3 months if refrigerated properly.
Author : Mella
Course : Dipping sauce
Cuisine : Filipino
Keyword : filipino sauce, sawsawan
Nutrition Facts
Soy Sauce and Vinegar Dipping Sauce
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Tag @rivertenkitchen or leave a comment below!

Originally published Nov 2019. Updated with new photos and video. Same great recipe!

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  1. 5 stars
    My favorite sawsawan for lechon kawali! I have also used this for tokwa’t baboy and it was a hit!
    Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    This sauce was simple to make with ingredients readily available in my pantry. The sauce went well with my lechon kawali! Ma Sarap!

    1. Thank you for the wonderful feedback, Ana! This is also my go-to sawsawan for anything lechon.
      – Mella