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Bagoong alamang: the super tasty Filipino shrimp paste

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 3, 2022

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Ever wondered about that pinkish condiment that goes well with your unripe, green mangoes that you enjoy so much on the streets of Manila or Davao?

Didn’t it feel like heaven every time you take a bite of those crunchy mangoes after dipping them in that pinkish sauce with little shrimps that produce a medley of flavors in your mouth?

Well, that’s the secret of bagoong alamang!

Bagoong alamang: the super tasty Filipino shrimp paste

Bagoong alamang is a shrimp paste condiment made from salted, fermented shrimp or krill mixed with salt. It is an essential ingredient in many Filipino dishes like kare-kare and pinakbet.

In this blog, we will dig deeper into its recipe, how to make it, its popular pairings, and many more!

Join me in discovering more of these tasty shrimp paste condiments that are not only popular in the Philippines but in its neighboring Southeast Asian countries as well!

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What is Bagoong Alamang?

Bagoong alamang is a type of shrimp paste that is made in the Philippines.

It is sold in pretty much any Philippine supermarket and is widely popular among Filipinos as a dipping sauce for unripe green mangoes and even soup-based dishes.

If you’re familiar with how yuzu kosho works as a tasty and dynamic condiment in Japan, then bagoong alamang is definitely the Filipino version of it in terms of usage.

Bagoong alamang can be a viand or dipping sauce when sauteed, and you can even deliciously pair it up with other ingredients as well, like kare-kare, pinakbet, and more.

What does Bagoong Alamang taste like?

Bagoong alamang offers an irresistible combination of sweetness, saltiness, and an unmistakable umami flavor that complements the dish that goes along with it.

Its saltiness comes from fermenting it with salt, and to balance it, sugar is added. Hence the sweetness.

A soup-based dish like kare-kare and solid foods like a warm bowl of rice or unripe mangoes go well with the bagoong alamang.

How to cook Bagoong Alamang?

The bagoong alamang is already cooked and only needs to be sauteed for added flavor. To do this, you will need the following:

Cooking ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of bagoong alamang
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small chili pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Cooking instructions

  1. In a pan over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in cooking oil until fragrant.
  2. Add bagoong alamang and chili pepper (if using) and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through.
  3. Serve with unripe mangoes, boiled saba bananas, or your favorite viand. Enjoy!

There you have it, a quick and easy recipe for bagoong alamang that you can easily follow at home!

Here you will find a mouth-watering Bagoong Alamang Recipe with Pork

How to eat Bagoong Alamang?

Bagoong alamang is often eaten as a viand or dipping sauce and is best paired with unripe mangoes, lechon kawali, or kare-kare.

To eat bagoong alamang as a viand, simply sautee it with your favorite vegetables or with pork. After all, it really depends on which dish you are going to eat it with.

Best Bagoong Alamang to buy

Buying fish or meat in the market is in no way different from buying bagoong alamang. That means, the same rules apply—choose the one that’s fresh.

When choosing fresh bagoong alamang, it’s important the small shrimp or krill are still intact and a bit crunchy.

Although the color can vary from pale pink, a bit orange, to reddish, I usually go with pale pink as they are often fresh.

Simply look for it at any Philippine supermarket or retail store.

However, I also like this bagoong alamang that I’ve bought online.

Barrio fiesta bagoong alamang filipino shrimp paste

(view more images)

It’s a little bit flavored since it’s already sauteed (ginisang bagoong) and may not be fresh, but it’ll save you a trip to the Phillipines.

What’s the origin of Bagoong Alamang?

Bagoong alamang, commonly known as shrimp paste, has a history that dates back to the eighth century.

At this time, shrimp were typically prepared by mixing them with salt and drying them on bamboo mats in the sun for preservation.

Then they would be ground up into a paste and fermented.

This way they were able to keep the shrimp good for several for months in Southern Thailand, where this custom appears to have started.

As a result, shrimp paste soon became popular and was used in the rest of Southeast Asia.

And because of the taste and easy-making process that contributed to its popularity, there are many different bagoong varieties in the Philippines.

One variation of this well-known condiment is from the Ilocos region and is called bagoong terong. This is made with tirong, or bonnetmouth fish.

Another variation of bagoong made with anchovies is known among Ilocanos as bugoong munamon.

Galunggong, also known as round scads, herring, ayungin, or silver perch, sapsap, or ponyfish, padas, or rabbitfish, and ipon, or bar-eyed gobies, are some more fish that are frequently used to make bagoong.

What’s the difference between Bagoong Alamang and Sauteed Bagoong Alamang?

The main difference between bagoong alamang and sauteed bagoong alamang is that bagoong alamang is the original fermented shrimp paste, while sauteed bagoong alamang is a cooked shrimp paste that often goes with pork.

Bagoong alamang has a strong, salty flavor, while sauteed bagoong alamang has a milder flavor.

Sauteed bagoong alamang is often used as a dipping sauce or condiment, while bagoong alamang is typically used as a viand or main dish ingredient.

So, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add flavor to your meal, sauteed bagoong alamang is an excellent option.

However, if you’re looking for a more traditional dish, bagoong alamang is the way to go, but it’s also important to cook it first.

As I’ve said earlier, bagoong alamang is a pretty flexible condiment that goes well with almost any dish you fancy.

Meet some of them below. It will be another list of dishes to add to your checklist.

Unripe mangoes

When talking about bagoong alamang, unripe mangoes sold by vendors on the sidewalk close to schools or workplaces will always be a topic.

They’re a great pairing and complement each other in flavor and crunchiness.

Kare-kare

Kare-kare‘s distinctive flavor is derived from the blending of roasted peanuts and toasted rice.

It has a mellow flavor that is deep, earthy, and slightly sweet.

Intentionally, the sauce is underseasoned. And with sauteed bagoong as a side dip, rest assured that it will be addictive.

Pinakbet

Pinakbet combines crispy pork with regional vegetables such as bitter melon, squash, sweet potatoes, eggplants, okra, and green beans.

With it being made with vegetables, it’s a nutritious dish that offers many vitamins and minerals needed for the body.

Find a delicious Pinakbet with bagoong shrimp paste recipe here

Binagoongan

Binagoongan, in its simple interpretation, is a Filipino dish that’s made with sautéed pork and shrimp paste.

Sweet adobo

Adobo is another popular dish that you can deliciously pair with bagoong alamang because of its distinctive umami flavor, rich sour tang, and soy sauce.

These Filipino dishes are only a few of the ones that you can pair with bagoong alamang. Go and discover more by trying it with some of your favorite dishes.

Bagoong Alamang ingredients

If you fancy making bagoong alamang from scratch in your kitchen, then here are quick-cooking ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions for you to get started.

Ingredients

  • 1 kilogram of small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup rock salt
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix together the shrimp, salt, and water. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  2. In a pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Sauté the garlic until it becomes fragrant.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they turn pink.
  5. Remove it from the heat and let it cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, transfer the shrimp and juices into a blender or food processor and blend until it becomes a paste.
  7. Store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Bagoong alamang is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes.

It’s perfect for those who are looking for a quick and easy way to add flavor to their meal.

So what are you waiting for? Go and try it today!

Where to eat Bagoong Alamang?

Are you wondering where to eat the best bagoong alamang in the Philippines? Well, suit yourself with the following best restaurants in the Philippines.

Aling Lucing’s Sisig

Aling Lucing is a restaurant in Angeles City, Pampanga that is known for its sisig.

Sisig is a dish made from pork cheeks and liver that is cooked until it is crispy.

It is then seasoned with calamansi, onions, and chili peppers. The dish is usually served on a sizzling plate.

The restaurant also serves bagoong alamang as a dipping sauce or side dish.

Maputing Cooking

Maputing Cooking is a restaurant in Quezon City that specializes in Filipino cuisine.

Their bagoong alamang is made with small shrimp that are sautéed in garlic, cooking oil, and black pepper.

It is then blended into a paste and served with unripe mangoes.

Kabisera ng Dencio’s

Kabisera ng Dencio’s is a restaurant chain that has branches all over the Philippines.

They serve bagoong alamang as an appetizer or side dish. It is made with small shrimp that are sautéed in garlic, cooking oil, and black pepper.

Lutong Bahay

Lutong Bahay is a restaurant in Davao City that specializes in home-cooked meals.

Their bagoong alamang is made with small shrimp that are sautéed in garlic, cooking oil, and black pepper.

The dish is then blended into a paste and served with steamed white rice.

These are just some of the restaurants where you can try bagoong alamang and there are many still other places that serve this dish.

On the other hand, it could be that it’s in your kitchen. So try making this one now!

Bagoong Alamang eating etiquette

Bagoong alamang is a dish that is best eaten with your hands. Here are some tips on how to eat bagoong alamang the right way.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling the bagoong alamang.
  2. Scoop a small amount of bagoong alamang onto your plate.
  3. Using your fingers, take a small amount of bagoong alamang and place it on top of your rice.
  4. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the bagoong alamang and lift it up to your mouth.
  5. Once you’re done eating, wash your hands again with soap and water.

Bagoong alamang is a delicious and healthy dish that you can enjoy at any time.

Is Bagoong Alamang healthy?

Yes, bagoong alamang is a healthy dish. It is low in calories and fat, and it is also a good source of protein.

This makes it a great option for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Additionally, bagoong alamang is rich in vitamins and minerals, which help to keep your body healthy.

In addition, bagoong alamang is claimed to have a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and important fatty acids like D.H.A.

Takeaway

Bagoong alamang is a quick and easy Filipino shrimp paste that is perfect for those who are looking for a way to add flavor to their meal.

It is also a healthy dish that is low in calories and fat and is a good source of protein.

Now here is a Bagnet Ilocos recipe you’ll love with the perfect bagoong dip

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.