how to make fish ball sauce filipino style | Family Cuisine

Fish balls are a popular dish in the Philippines. Many people love them, but they can be difficult to eat and prepare at home. This Filipino fish ball sauce recipe is easy and delicious!

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How to make fish ball sauce filipino style

There is no doubt we Filipinos love our street food. And if you ask me about my favorite, it’ll have to be fish balls (or fishball). Nothing beats eating fishballs off a stick, piping hot after you just skewered them off a street vendor’s deep-frying pan. But THE best part of it all is dipping them into their famous fishball sauce. YUM!

Fishball sauce recipe just like Manong

Reading: how to make fish ball sauce filipino style

I’ve always been curious about this well-loved fishball sauce recipe. I studied in UP Diliman and I’m sure many of you have heard that we love eating fishballs there from Manongs who sell them across the campus. It was where I got hooked on the sweet sauce, and I then moved on to the spicy version. I noticed something. It seemed to me that wherever I go, even outside the campus, the taste of the fishball sauce of every Manong fishball vendor (yes, I call all of them manong) I met had the same taste. I wondered, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!? 😀

Over the past decade or so (ugh, I’m old), I’ve asked different vendors about their sauce. Most of them took wild guesses. There were a couple who refused to tell me anything, which, to me, was an indication they really had no idea, and some were so convinced they had the right recipe.

Of course, I tried to make them at home and failed three times (twice, I was adding vinegar). It was only in late 2004 that I learned the right recipe. The manong who sold fishballs at our home in Navotas told me about his fish ball sauce recipe. The thing is, I didn’t get to making it til a year later. It was too late for me to thank him because we already moved to Malabon, but I’m forever thankful. Charot! 😀

Okay, enough blabber. I have never shared this recipe with anyone before. But because of a friend from down under (yes, you bes Mavz! 😉 ), I decided to post here. And just to make sure I’m giving you the correct fishball sauce recipe with that familiar taste we all love, I tested this twice ’cause the last time I made this was in 2011. I hope you enjoy this recipe! 🙂

Fishball sauce

Fish Ball Sauce Recipe – Just Like Manong’s!


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsps cornstarch Update: If the sauce doesn’t thicken quickly, just add more cornstarch or flour. Do this gradually since you might end up with a very thick sauce.
  • 2 tbsps all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsps Silver Swan soy sauce I’m sure other brands will work, but I have never tried any other soy sauce. Let me know if you tried other brands and got the same taste. I think my family already had too much fishballs for me to test again. 😀 Update: We heard Marca Piña soy sauce worked well too, so it’s okay to try other brands.
  • 1 small red onion, chopped or minced I prefer minced. Make sure you only use 1 small red onion, otherwise the flavor would be too strong. But, if you prefer it that way, then go ahead.
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced Again, use small ones, but adjust to your liking.
  • 1 siling labuyo / chili pepper Adjust to your preferred hotness or skip this altogether if you’re making this for kids. But, I think they’ll be okay with 1 chili.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Update: If you check the comments below, you’ll see some people suggested you add a few tablespoons of Sprite or 7up. So you might want to do this if in case you’re still not happy with the outcome.

Minced garlic, chili and onion

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I minced the garlic, onion and chili in one go using our Tupperware Speedy Chopper. 😉

How to Make Fishball Sauce

1. (NOTE: Do not put this on the stove yet.) Mix water, cornstarch, all purpose flour, brown sugar and soy sauce in a sauce pan until the dry ingredients are dissolved. The reason why you shouldn’t heat this yet is because the cornstarch won’t dissolve properly in hot water.

Mix ingredients til the dry ingredients are completely dissolved

2. Once all the dry ingredients are dissolved, place the sauce pan over medium heat.

3. Stir often until the mixture boils.

Place mixture on medium heat and let it boil while stirring

4. Add the garlic, onions, chili and salt. Reduce heat to low.

This is the perfect time for you to start frying those fishballs! I prefer them real crunchy. We only used regular fishballs you can buy frozen from the grocery or at the market. (We’ll see if we can come up with our own fishball recipe soon for our foodie friends abroad. 😉 )

I want fishballs a li

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5. Stir the mixture frequently and wait til you ALMOST get the consistency or thickness you prefer.

Fry the fishballs while waiting for the sauce to thicken up

My first attempt (shown in the photos on this post) got a li’l too thick ’cause I was already eating some of the cooked fishballs and forgot to turn off the heat. 😀 So make sure you remove the pan off the heat as soon as you see the thickness of the fishball sauce to be closer to your preference. It’ll continue to thicken because of the residual heat. 🙂

Double dip all you want!

Sorry, I only had chopsticks available. 😀

That’s it! Super easy, right?! You can now transfer this to a bowl or a jar (I recycled our Biscoff cookie butter jars). Tusukin ang fishballs and dip them in this sweet, spicy fishball sauce! 😀

Fishball sauce just like manong

You can use this for fried kikiam, chicken balls and squid balls. The fun part is you can double dip all you want! Go ahead! 😉 Let us know if you’ve tried making this fishball sauce at home and how it went. Enjoy!!! 🙂



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