I left the bottle of “experimental” bagoong alamang in the back of the fridge in our Cebu office for 2.5 weeks before taking it back out again, with more than a bit of trepidation. An earlier experiment with tuyo (dried salted fish) had gone a bit awry, so I wasn’t sure the bagoong was going to be edible. It didn’t help that one of the cooks said the bottle had somehow fallen on its side, and some of the salty juices had leaked out sometime during the two weeks. The first whiff of the bagoong alamang was surprisingly pleasant, perhaps too pleasant as others in the office felt it should have had a funkier smell. :) We rinsed some bagoong alamang in some fresh running water and squeezed it a bit.
Into a saute pan I added several tablespoons of lard, sauteed chopped onions, garlic and lots of tomatoes, and added a fistful of rinsed alamang. Sauteed this for a few minutes and plated this up, above. This was good, albeit still a tad salty, so we decided to add some chopped kamias or iba or belimbi and saute this all for a minute or so more. Yum.
On another day, we made sauteed bagoong with some lard, onions, garlic, tomatoes, kamias, muscovado sugar, coconut cream cooked until it was essentially just coconut oil remaining. This version was superb. The balance of saltiness, sourness, sugar and richness of oil was a real delight. Add a tablespoon of achuete oil if you need a redder/orange color.
On a third day, we made yet another batch of sauteed bagoong and added many of the ingredients above, but threw in chopped up lechon, and that was nice as well. Eaten as a condiment or side dish to say deep fried fish, or grilled meats, any of these ginisang bagoong concoctions packed a wallop in flavor, a bit of a blast of the past from childhood days when my mom used to make something similar (though she never made her own bagoong)… The base ingredient of brined tiny shrimp was so easy to make that we promptly purchased more fresh alamang and have five kilos worth brining away in the fridge as I write this… :)