Filipino pride comes in many forms, and it has manifested in the love for athletes, musicians and beauty queens who hail from the Philippines. But if there’s anything most, if not all Filipinos can show pride for, it is the flavorful, innovative food that’s very much so Filipino. Bagoong alamang is a shrimp or fish paste. And people make it through the fermentation of fish or shrimp with salt for at least a couple of weeks. This fermenting process can last a few months, especially in enriching the flavor. And it is the standard Filipino condiment that the country shows its love for through the wide variety of mouthwatering, tasty dishes that feature it. The classic green mango with bagoong shows the punch of flavor this condiment can bring into any meal. Ensaladang mangga is also a good example, and one of my favorites.
There are also bagoong variations in other countries, and these can be seen mainly around Southeast Asia. It is called Ngapi in Burma, Kapi in Thailand, and Terasi in Infonesia. Shrimp paste is relatively famed for going well with Asian cuisine, and so the love for it extends all over the continent, especially in the Southeast Asian region.
Within the Philippines, in particular, some of the most well-known bagoong options can be found in Lingayen, Pangasinan. This is because the humidity in Pangasinan makes it an ideal place for bagoong to be produced. The Lingayen Gulf that supplies the fish for bagoong isda. This is a variation of the condiment that mainly makes use of fish. The presence of this gulf also helps in making it extremely popular for production in the municipality.
Bagoong variants in the Philippines:
Because of its popularity, there is a wide variety of bagoong variations all over the Philippines. Bagoong terong is one version of this iconic condiment, and it comes from the Ilocos region. They make this with bonnetmouth fish or tirong. Ilocanos also have another rendition of bagoong that is created with anchovies, and it is called bugoong munamon. Some other often used fish for bagoong are galunggong or round scads, herring, ayungin or silver perch, sapsap or ponyfish, padas or rabbitfish, and ipon or bar-eyed gobies.
But you can also make bagoong made with other seafood ingredients, including large oysters. This is called bagoong macaebe, and it is usually made in Visayas. The Visayas region also famously produces bagoong sisi, which is made with oysters and small clams.
But arguably the most famous of these variants is the bagoong alamang. As seen in its name, it is made with krill or small shrimps. This shrimp fry provides a less liquid-like texture to bagoong and is salty and savory. Depending on where you’re from, you can also call it bagoong armang, uyap, ginamos or dayok.
Origins of bagoong alamang:
The origins of bagoong alamang, which can also be called shrimp paste, can be traced back to the eighth century. At this time, shrimp would usually be mixed with salt and dried under the sun on bamboo mats for fermentation. This practice seems to have began in Southern Thailand where they would utilize the dried shrimp for months. Because of this, the popularity and use of shrimp paste eventually expanded to the rest of Southeast Asia.
Despite it being relatively pungent, its complex taste and combination of salty, sweet and umami flavors make it a staple in the Filipino kitchen. If you’ve had your fair share of classic Filipino specials, you might have already tasted bagoong alamang with your Kare-kare or Pinakbet. But if you’re looking to widen your range of bagoong alamang dishes to cook, look no further. We’re about to introduce you to a set of thought out recipes with this flavor-packed ingredient. And if you can’t get your hands on them, don’t worry! We’ve also got tips on making them in your own kitchen, alongside advice on preserving them. Read on if you’re interested in learning more about bagoong alamang, and some of the best ways to cook with it!
Bagoong is popular for its strong, powerful taste. This gives it enough flavor to serve as a dip for green mangoes, or even to mix with your salad. However, it can also serve as a salt substitute because of its briny flavor. Some dishes like dinengdeng, inabraw and ensalada utilize it as a salt alternative.
People also largely know it for being a great starter for stir-fry. Paired with the right ingredients like onions or vinegar, it can make for a great combination with most of your favorite side dishes like rice.
How to make your own bagoong alamang:
You are likely to find bagoong in pretty much every Filipino supermarket you might encounter. And this is especially since it is essential for a great number of local recipes. But if you’re unable to access a place that sells it right now, fear not because you can try the fermenting process with your own ingredients.
Start by getting your hands on some fresh alamang or small shrimps. Make sure to clean it properly before draining, drying and grinding it. Then mix it with approximately 300 grams of salt for every kilo of alamang. After a good amount mixing, bottle up your bagoong alamang, seal it then refrigerate it for fermentation. This may take at least three weeks, but it might be best to wait longer for better results. Every once in a while, mix your bagoong inside the jar so your salt evens out.
After fermentation, you will notice the forming of two layers. The bottom layer is where your bagoong is, so make sure to remove the liquid top layer. Then proceed to put your bagoong in a different container.
Now that you’ve got some of this krill-based condiment ready, why not give some trademark bagoong alamang dishes a go? And if you’re looking for some unique recipes, we’ve also listed down some recommendations for you.
Try these recipes with bagoong alamang:
If you’ve ever wanted to try your bagoong as a viand, sitting perfectly with some warm white rice, this is the recipe for you. Bagoong Guisado might be familiar to many Filipinos because of its simultaneous simplicity and strong taste that make it popular. It takes less than 20 minutes to make, but has all the makings of a delicious meal with the mix of the savory pork, tomatoes and onions alongside the vinegar and bagoong for a well-seasoned meal. Bagoong alamang is usually known for the rich umami flavor it can add to dishes, but as a sauteéd dish that serves as a base for texture and taste, it yields delicious results!
You are likely to be missing out if you haven’t tried Pinakbet, as it contains all the savor and pleasant bitterness you’re looking for. Pinakbet Tagalog, in particular, is known for its usage of the krill-based condiment that gives it a rich, salty taste. Meanwhile, Pakbet Ilocano makes use of Bagoong Terong or Bagoong Monamon which uses fish instead of krill. Both renditions are delightfully appetizing in their own right. But if you’re craving for a more shrimp-like taste in your Pinakbet, and the soft but firm texture of kalabasa or squash, make sure to take a crack at a Pinakbet Tagalog dish.
Nothing really beats the classic! Binagoongan stands as a well-known Filipino recipe not just because of the comfort it brings in the stew of flavors it sits on, but also for its one of a kind taste. This is because of the smooth integration of various ingredients to heighten the dish’s flavor. With a good amount of bagoong alamang alongside pork stock, white vinegar and other components for seasoning, it is reminiscent of a classic Filipino recipe that utilizes various flavorings for a graceful meal. Most people know it for being a great lunch meal, but can also make for a yummy, protein-packed dinner or breakfast.
Fans of lechon may want to check this recipe out a little more so than others. This Crispy Pork Binagoongan is a fun and guaranteed crunchy collaboration between the previous dish and the well-loved lechon kawali. Interestingly enough, this recipe also makes use of an air fryer, which is a healthier method than frying with oil. And after trying this out in your kitchen, you’ll end up with a lechon kawali with a more complex mix of flavors and of course, a very satisfied belly. It might be best to eat it as soon as you finish cooking it just to taste it at its best– warm and satisfyingly crispy.
Rice is by far the most popular side dish in the Philippines, and this comes as no surprise. Not only is it a great source of carbohydrates for energy, but it goes with almost everything. But it might taste even better with the rich, umami taste of heaps of bagoong alamang. This Bagoong Rice recipe is actually an adaptation of the Thai classic that also uses shrimp paste with rice. But some elements of this dish are specially integrated for a Filipino twist, such as the green mangoes scattered above the rice. This should replicate the awesome experience of tasting unripe mangoes with bagoong!
How to preserve and store bagoong alamang:
If you’re done sprinkling a bit of shrimp paste into your dishes, you might be wondering what to do with it next. Should I refrigerated it? Actually, the krill-based seasoning can be kept right on your shelf, unlike some other condiments. And most of the time, it can last about a year or more when kept right outside your fridge, under room temperature. However, the option to keep it inside the refrigerator also works. But keep it sealed wherever it is stored, as it is an odor-heavy condiment.
Let us know your thoughts about this rich, flavorful condiment!