Guide To Making Fishball Sauce



Fishball sauce is a quintessential condiment in many Asian cuisines, especially in the Philippines, where street food culture thrives. This delectable sauce enhances the taste of fishballs, transforming them from simple snacks into mouthwatering delights. Whether you’re hosting a party or enjoying a casual snack, mastering the art of making fishball sauce will elevate your culinary game.

A Brief History of Fishball Sauce

Fishballs have been a staple in many Asian cultures for centuries, with their origins tracing back to China. Over time, various regions have developed their own versions of fishballs and accompanying sauces. In the Philippines, the fishball sauce is a sweet and tangy concoction that perfectly complements the savory fishballs. This sauce has become synonymous with Filipino street food, offering a burst of flavors that leave you craving for more.


Essential Ingredients

  • 1 cup vinegar: The base that provides the tangy flavor.
  • 1 cup water: Balances the acidity and thins the sauce.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar: Adds sweetness and depth.
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce: Infuses a salty, umami taste.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced: Enhances the overall flavor with a hint of spice.

Optional Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, for thickening): Creates a thicker, more substantial sauce.
  • Red chili flakes or chopped chili (optional, for heat): Adds a spicy kick for those who love heat.

How To Make Fishball Sauce

1. Preparing the Ingredients

Begin by gathering all the necessary ingredients. Measure out the vinegar, water, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Mince the garlic cloves finely. If you prefer a thicker sauce, dissolve one teaspoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of water to create a slurry. Additionally, decide if you want to add heat to your sauce and prepare the red chili flakes or chopped chili accordingly.

2. Combining the Base Ingredients

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, brown sugar, soy sauce, and minced garlic. These ingredients form the base of your fishball sauce, offering a balance of tangy, sweet, salty, and savory flavors.

3. Bringing to a Simmer

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves completely and the flavors meld together. As the mixture heats up, you’ll notice the aroma of vinegar and soy sauce filling the kitchen, tantalizing your senses.

4. Adding Optional Ingredients

If you prefer a spicy sauce, now is the time to add the red chili flakes or chopped chili. Stir them into the mixture, allowing the heat to infuse the sauce. For those who like a thicker sauce, slowly pour in the cornstarch slurry while stirring continuously. This step ensures the cornstarch is evenly distributed, preventing lumps from forming.

5. Simmering to Perfection

Continue to simmer the sauce for about 5-7 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the sauce simmers, it will begin to thicken, and the flavors will intensify. Taste the sauce periodically and adjust the seasoning if needed. If the sauce is too tangy, add a bit more brown sugar. If it’s too sweet, a splash of vinegar can balance it out.

6. Cooling and Serving

Once the sauce reaches your desired consistency, remove it from the heat. Let it cool slightly before serving. This cooling period allows the flavors to settle and meld together beautifully. Pour the sauce into a serving dish or a dipping bowl, ready to accompany your freshly cooked fishballs.

7. Storage Tips

If you have leftover sauce, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep well for up to a week. Before using it again, give it a good stir or gently reheat it on the stove to bring back its vibrant flavors.

Tips for the Perfect Fishball Sauce

  • Balancing Flavors: The key to a great fishball sauce is balancing the tangy, sweet, and salty elements. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed to suit your preference.
  • Consistency: If you prefer a thinner sauce, omit the cornstarch. For a thicker sauce, ensure the cornstarch slurry is well-mixed and added gradually.
  • Heat Level: Customize the spiciness by adjusting the amount of red chili flakes or chopped chili. Start with a small amount and increase as desired.
  • Serving Suggestions: While this sauce is traditionally paired with fishballs, it can also complement other snacks like squid balls, kikiam, or even grilled meats.


Creating the perfect fishball sauce at home is a rewarding experience that brings the taste of Filipino street food to your kitchen. With a few simple ingredients and easy steps, you can whip up a sauce that elevates any snack into a flavorful delight. Whether you like it tangy, sweet, salty, or spicy, this versatile sauce can be customized to your liking. Enjoy it with your favorite fishballs and savor the authentic taste of this beloved street food condiment.