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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Have This In Your Kitchen: Bagoong

Raw or sautéed, fish or shrimp, spicy or plain, bagoong (bah-goh-ong) is an ingredient you should have in your kitchen at all times. Basically, it's shrimp (or fish) mixed in a brine and allowed to ferment for an extended period of time.

Shrimp paste is not just a staple in the Philippines, but in other South East Asian countries as well. In Thailand they call their paste kepi, in Indonesia it's called terasi.

When do you use bagoong? Well, if you have kare kare (pictured above), it's not uncommon to see a diner spoon a generous amount on their plate (the cooked bagoong, mind you). I'm not exactly sure why this is done, but I think it adds another layer of flavor to the dish.

There are a number of dishes that call for the use of bagoong. It's not surprising to see it paired with coconut milk- part of the Filipino triad of fried/salty/sweet. You can buy it cooked, or you can cook it up yourself. To prepare, sauté with onions and garlic. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.

Here's a quick salad that goes great with fried fish (if you can get butterflied milk fish (bangus), even better!) - dice tomato, red onion, and green mangoes. Add sauted shrimp paste (ginisang alamang - a specific type of bagoong) and toss.

I personally like eating the cooked shrimp bagoong with okra or sliced green mango.

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