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How is bagoong made?

A little goes a long way with this fermented fish condiment. It brings a bold, umami flavour to Filipino dishes and is made from inexpensive forage fish like anchovies, sardines, herring, shrimp and other shellfish. There are endless varieties found in the homes across the Philippines and they can be added to rice, pork belly dishes, used as a dipping sauce, stirred into steamed vegetables or added to fruit snacks for a balance of sweet and salty. It can also be used as a salt substitute in the kitchen, for example as a starter in the pan for cooking stir fries, because of its briny flavour but just be careful not to overdo it as it packs a real punch!

Time: 20 mins (prep) (plus 1 week & 12 hours of fermenting), 20 mins (cook)

Equipment: 1x mixing bowl, 1x spatular, 1x sieve, 1x frying pan, 1x chopping board, 1x chef knife

Ingredients

  • 1kg krill
  • 100g sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic (diced)
  • 3 small chillis
  • sugar to taste (roughly 100g-200g)
  • green mango
  • tomato
  • coriander

Method

Step 1

OK! Let’s make a simple bagoong. Wash the krill 3 times removing any impurities or foreign objects. Leave to dry and then tip into a bowl.

Step 2

Now, add your salt and mix it well. Leave for 12 hours at room temperature before transferring to a clean container and placing in your fridge for 7 days.

Step 3

Now we have our fermented krill or bagoong. Into a hot pan, add some oil and dice garlic, frying until golden brown. Now add in the shrimp paste and cook for a few minutes before adding the chillis.

Step 4

To create a sweet alternative, add sugar and cook until you see a shine and the sugar has dissolved. Now allow this to cool before storing in the fridge.

Step 5

Serving suggestion: I'm going to create a simple fresh salad with acidic green mangos, coriander and tomato for topping with my bagoong.

Gene's Notes

Step 1

Krill are tiny crustaceans, typically the size of a paper clip, and their name comes from the Norwegian word for “small fish”. These tiny crustaceans are essential to the world's marine life and are a key part of the ocean's diet. Fun fact: some types of krill can live up to 10 years old!

Step 2

Fermentation

In Asia, fermentation is often used to preserve fish and bagoong was also thought to be a way of selling those smaller fish and crustaceans that inhabit coastal waters which are often considered unmarketable. These processes have created a way of creating flavour in a once simple diet (mainly rice) and are also a source of important nutrients.

Fermentation with large amounts of salt stops spoilage and allows the bacteria to modify the flavours.

Step 3

Sometimes bagoong is mixed with food colouring for a more consistent appearance but I prefer it more natural without the added colouring.

Add oil as needed to stop the paste from catching.

Step 4

When adding the sugar we want to do this first by taste and second by looking for a shine on the surface of the paste.

The bagoong should keep in your fridge for extended periods of time in an airtight container.

Step 5

With my salad I use a variety of ingredients to make different variations. The most essential ingredient in your salad is a tart or acidic fruit which is traditional in the Philippines.

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I'm here to share my love for Filipino food with the world. I'm also the founder and president of the Center for Asian Culinary Studies.