Lechon sauce—also known as sarsa ng lechon—is a condiment in Filipino cuisine served with fried, grilled, or roasted foods, particularly Lechon (Roasted Pig).
The sauce is made using ingredients like pork liver, vinegar, sugar, bread crumbs, and aromatics. It has a thick consistency with a sweet and savory flavor. Like banana ketchup, it has become a pantry staple in many Filipino households.
What is Mang Tomas?
Mang Tomas is a popular brand of lechon sauce, though labeled as an all-purpose sauce or sarsa. It has been around for several decades and has gained widespread popularity among Filipinos for its distinct flavor.
The name Mang Tomas has become nearly interchangeable with lechon sauce, with many people using the two terms synonymously. Although the original recipe for Mang Tomas sauce used liver as one of its primary ingredients, some variations nowadays no longer include liver.
What does lechon sauce taste like?
Lechon sauce has a sweet, savory, and slightly tangy taste that many Filipinos love. Its primary ingredient is liver, which provides a savory, umami flavor with an earthy undertone.
The sauce also contains vinegar, which gives it a tangy kick that balances the sweetness of the added sugar. Its consistency is similar to gravy or barbecue sauce, with bread crumbs used to thicken it up.
Is lechon sauce healthy?
Lechon sauce is a delicious condiment, but not the healthiest food option. It has high amounts of sugar and sodium, which can be detrimental to one's health if consumed excessively. Liver is a highly nutritious food, though it should be consumed in moderation to avoid potential adverse effects.
Bottled versions of lechon sauce, like Mang Tomas, are generally not considered healthy either. They are high in sodium, sugar, and preservatives.
A serving of Mang Tomas all-purpose sauce (2 tablespoons) contains 230 milligrams of sodium and 6 grams of sugar. As with most foods, lechon sauce can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Where to buy and how to store
Lechon sauce is usually available in Filipino or Asian grocery stores, specialty food stores, and online retailers. Some popular brands are Mang Tomas, Mama Sita's, and Andok's. Homemade lechon sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a longer shelf life.
Bottled versions, such as Mang Tomas, should be stored similarly to ketchup. Keep unopened bottles in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Once opened, store the sauce in the refrigerator and use it within a few months.
How to make lechon sauce
Making a homemade version using liver spread or pâté is easy, convenient, and far more delicious than store-bought alternatives.
(1)In a saucepan, sauté 1 onion in about 2 tablespoons of neutral oil until softened over medium heat. Add 4 garlic cloves and sauté just before it turns brown.
(2)Add a small (about 2.65 ounces) can of liver spread or pâté, ⅓ cup vinegar, 3 tablespoons sugar, ⅔ cup water, 1 bay leaf, ½ teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt), and a generous amount of ground pepper. Stir well to combine. Bring it to a boil, then simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.
(3)Remove the bay leaf and blend until smooth. You can use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes over low heat until slightly thickened. Adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your taste.
Allow it to cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze it for a longer shelf life.
Lechon sauce in Filipino cuisine
Although lechon sauce was originally intended as a condiment for Lechon (Roasted Pig), it is versatile and can complement a variety of other dishes. Here are some of our favorites:
- Fried foods: Lechon sauce complements the savory and crispy texture of fried foods like Lechon Kawali (Fried Pork Belly), Lumpiang Shanghai (Fried Spring Rolls), fried fish, and fried chicken.
- Grilled or roasted foods: Lechon Belly (Roasted Pork Belly), Lechon Manok (Roasted Chicken), Inihaw na Manok (Grilled Chicken), and Inihaw na Liempo (Grilled Pork Belly) are some examples that go well with lechon sauce.
- Silog breakfasts: Lechon sauce goes well with some silog-type breakfasts consisting of sinangag (garlic fried rice), itlog (egg), and proteins such as fried milkfish/bangus (Bangsilog), fried chicken (Chicksilog), and Lechon Kawali (Fried Pork Belly) silog.
- Lechon Paksiw: A stew that includes leftover Roasted Pig (Lechon) or Lechon Kawali (Fried Pork Belly) simmered in vinegar, lechon sauce, and aromatics.
Other ingredient guides you may like
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Lechon Sauce (Sarsa ng Lechon)
- Blender, food processor, or immersion blender
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 (2.65-ounce can) liver spread or pâté
- ⅓ cup white or cane vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar sub: granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt) adjust to taste
- Ground pepper to taste
- Neutral oil for sautéing
- In a saucepan, sauté onions in about 2 tablespoons of neutral oil until softened over medium heat.
- Add garlic and sauté just before it turns brown.
- Add the liver spread or pate, vinegar, sugar, ½ cup water, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Bring it to a boil, then simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf and blend until smooth. You can use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender.
- Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes over low heat until slightly thickened.
- Adjust the sweetness and saltiness of the sauce to your taste.
- Allow it to cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
Wow, I didn’t realize it was that easy to replicate Mang Tomas at home.