Monday, February 20th 2023

Patis is a condiment used in Filipino cuisine that is also known as fish sauce. It is a thin, watery liquid that is made from fermented fish or shrimp. Patis is used in many dishes as a flavor enhancer, and is considered an essential ingredient in Filipino cooking.

To make patis, small fish or shrimp are first cleaned and then mixed with salt. The mixture is left to ferment for several months, during which time the fish or shrimp breaks down and releases a liquid that is then collected and bottled as patis. The resulting liquid is salty and has a strong, pungent aroma that can be overpowering to some people.

Patis is often used as a dipping sauce for grilled or fried foods, such as pork or chicken, and is also used as a base for many Filipino dishes. It is an important ingredient in dishes like adobo, sinigang, and pinakbet, and is also used to add flavor to soups, stews, and noodle dishes.

Different brands of patis can vary in taste and quality, and some are more highly regarded than others. Some popular brands of patis in the Philippines include Rufina, Datu Puti, and Silver Swan.

Patis is a staple condiment in many Filipino households, and is often served alongside other condiments like vinegar, soy sauce, and chili peppers. While its strong flavor may not be to everyone's taste, it is an important and beloved ingredient in Filipino cuisine.


The exact origin of patis, is not known, but it is believed to have been developed in Southeast Asia, particularly in the regions of Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Fish sauce has been used in these regions for thousands of years, and is thought to have been developed as a way to preserve fish and make it last longer.

In the Philippines, patis is believed to have been used since ancient times, as evidenced by archaeological finds of earthenware jars and cooking implements used to make and store fermented fish sauce. Some historians speculate that the use of patis in the Philippines may have been influenced by the Chinese, who had a long history of using fermented fish sauce in their cuisine.

Patis has since become an essential ingredient in Filipino cuisine, and is used in a wide variety of dishes to add depth of flavor and enhance the overall taste of the food. While there are many different types and brands of fish sauce available today, patis remains a beloved and integral part of Filipino culinary tradition.

Regional Varieties

There are several regional varieties of patis in the Philippines, which vary in flavor and composition based on the type of fish or seafood used and the method of fermentation. Here are some examples:

  1. Ilocano bagoong - This is a type of patis made from fermented anchovies or other small fish, and is a specialty of the Ilocos region in the northern Philippines. It has a strong, salty flavor and is often used as a dipping sauce for grilled or fried foods.

  2. Bagoong alamang - This is a type of patis made from fermented shrimp, and is a popular condiment in many parts of the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. It has a distinctive pink color and a strong, savory flavor.

  3. Pinakurat - This is a type of patis from the province of Surigao del Norte in the eastern part of the Philippines. It is made with a variety of fish and is mixed with spices and vinegar to give it a tangy, slightly sour flavor.

  4. Palapa - This is a type of patis that is popular in the southern Philippines, particularly in the Muslim-majority region of Mindanao. It is made with fermented fish or shrimp and is mixed with a variety of herbs and spices, including ginger, turmeric, and chili peppers.

  5. Batuan patis - This is a type of patis from the Bicol region in the southeastern part of the Philippines. It is made with a local fruit called batuan, which is mixed with fish and salt and left to ferment for several months. The resulting patis has a tangy, slightly sweet flavor that is unique to the Bicol region.

These regional varieties of patis are often used in local dishes and can be found in markets and specialty stores throughout the Philippines.

How is patis made?

Patis, is made by fermenting fish with salt over a period of several months. The process of making patis can vary depending on the region and the type of fish being used, but the basic steps are as follows:

  1. Selection of fish: The type of fish used to make patis can vary depending on the region and the season. Common fish used in the Philippines include anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and tuna.

  2. Cleaning and salting: The fish are cleaned and mixed with salt in a ratio of about 1:1 to 1:3, depending on the desired saltiness. The mixture is then left to ferment in earthenware jars or other containers for several months.

  3. Pressing and filtering: After the fish has fermented for several months, it is removed from the jars and pressed to extract the liquid. The liquid is then filtered to remove any solids or impurities.

  4. Bottling and storage: The finished patis is then bottled and stored in a cool, dark place until it is ready to be used.

The exact process and ingredients used to make patis can vary depending on the region and the desired flavor. For example, some regions may add additional ingredients such as garlic, ginger, or sugar to the mixture to enhance the flavor. The resulting patis can range in color from light amber to dark brown, and can have a salty, savory flavor that is rich in umami.