Blocks, Cubes & Prisms of Binayo / Guinamos, Murcia Market, Negros Occidental


Growing up in Manila, I always associated “guinamos” with a murky grey brown fermenting fish sauce. My dad used to dip his rare (in Manila) and precious fresh, blanched, peeled and hairy pili fruit into guinamos before closing his eyes and letting out a little Bicolano “mmmm” that was his food equivalent of ecstacy. Guinamos in Cebu also sometimes referred to other variations of small fish and salt and different stages of putrification, so the name association continued for several decades. So I was quite surprised when just across a narrow straight from Cebu, on the island of Negros, guinamos referred to these rather pinkish brown tinged blocks of salted shrimp paste, more akin to say a Malay belacang or a drier version of what we might refer to as bagoong up North… But this site, which also explains how to make Ilonggo guinamos, explains that the shrimp used in guinamos differs from its Northern relations…


And there is a method to the “madness” of different shapes and sizes of guinamos on offer at the market. The different shapes represent different price levels and it went down to just 2 or 3 pesos worth, enough for a single dish… I like this concept of portioning it out, probably roughly the same weight, but with slight differences. It strikes me as being charming in a provincial sort of way… and since it is the buyer who picks their block, cube or prism, then it is only the buyer who can blamed if he has chosen poorly. :)


30 Responses

  1. I was told guinamos the one you feature here (the dry variety) is one of the key ingredients in batchoy. The look of block guinamos and belacan looks one and the same to me. So I imagine they taste the same. I value my belacan (now also available in powdered form in a pouch like helium material) and bagoong fish or shrimp more than anything else. They have a special place in my pantry dedicated to them. Without them the taste my guinisang monggo and other sauteed veggies is flat and missing that pungent aroma which I find very appetizing. I gave belacan a shot when our bottled shrimp bagoong is too red in color and found them horrible looking in my dish. Then I started mixing belacan with them and I am so used with belacan and it is now part of my sauteed veggies.

  2. Thanks so much for your extensive features of Negros. I grew up loving guinamos and we got our supply from an aunt who makes her own so we know it’s really good quality (and hygienic too). I love the dry kind which we saute in oil and garlic.

  3. i thought it was blocks or prisms of chocolates on the first picture. i was starting to salivate when i realized later that it was shrimp do u cook that thing?could it also be part of the pinakbet instead of using bagoong?

  4. If I remember correctly, this side dish is what we call “Uyap” in Davao. The best way to enjoy this is to simply squeeze fresh lemon on a small mound of uyap then eat as side dish along with steamed rice.

  5. the guinamos you featured above are the best ever. when i was staying in manila we used to “import” it from iloilo. now we import it here to guam. i would not exchange it for the other types of bagoong. the dry ones are really super!

  6. and oh by the way, these are wrapped in dried banana leaves….best enjoyed with calamansi and sinamak and lots of rice.

  7. this is what we call “binayo” (accent on ‘yo’) in iloilo (maybe in negros, too??) the mix is pounded in big wooden mortar and pestle called ”lusong”….i brought back a small tupperware with me from vacation (in my carry-on, no less). there is a difference in ilonggo food cooked with this.

  8. isabelle, you just made my mouth water. as a kid, when i didn’t like the food on the table,i’d ask for ginisa na ginamos. and that’s all i ate with steamed rice. yum! this is a valued commodity nowadays for us negrenses living in manila, greatly appreciated when someone brings a block for us together with batwan which we freeze so it lasts longer.

    love your negros posts MM. thank you.

  9. Natiie – yes Ilonggos from Bacolod call it binayo and when cooked it’s ginisa ng ginamos as Maddie mentioned. My dad used to eat this with batuan or iba (or kamias in tagalog) during lunch.

  10. For Eastern Visayans, guinamos refers to the fish-y paste. Shrimp paste is uyap. Dayok, on the other hand, is made from fish guts. All of them are heaven to the palate. ;-0

  11. Wow, I didn’t know we had that dried kind of bagoong in the Phils. I am from Luzon so I guess that explains my ignorance. =) That would be wonderful to use in many asian dishes!

  12. In Cebu, the big bottles of guinamos pasalubong from relatives in Bogo was such a precious commodity and was treated almost like Cadbury chocolate bars by my parents.

  13. with a twist of calamansi or sauteed in pork, guinamos makes a perfect ulam especially when you’re using your hands.:D this is another pasalubong from Negros i couldn’t escape from. 2 days before my flight to Manila, relatives and neighbors would bring over guinamos wrapped in banana leaf and newspaper for all their relatives and friends in Manila.:D

  14. Oooh, my lola in Silay used to make a big big kawali of ginamos with these blocks! She would cook it with lots and lots of garlic and a little sugar! She would put it in bottles for us to take home after summer vacations with her. This is defintely one of my early food memories :)

  15. This is how I remember ginamos. Growing up in Luzon,my Mom couldnt imagine a dry bagoong. But ginamos is so good and became a precious commodity whenever someone from Bacolod brought some. I’ve not tasted this in a long time. Is there somewhere we can buy some in Manila? So good with just calamansi and hot rice. Or with vinegar.

  16. Avoid guinamos if you’re serious about wanting to lose weight – it’s manamit and so pampagana! I agree with Rhea. Green mango + guinamos is delish! Beats the green mango + soy sauce or just plain salt combo anytime! “Mukhasim” optional. :)

  17. I buzz a block of blachan with olive oil in a food processor and keep a handy jar of it to give that peculiar flavor to most Asian dishes I cook, specially fried-rice or veggies. My bakya version of Betty Q´s John Lobb XO sauce.

  18. In Surigao del Sur that’s where i first encountered that kind of salted shrimp….my aunt and uncles would sautee lots of garlic and onion then add pork fat to render more oil,afterwards they would sautee the shrimp blocks then add siling haba then add in gata they’ll continue stirring till the gata turns to oil….add sugar to counter the salty taste…salty,sweet,spicy…YUMMY with lots of rice….

  19. G’Day! Marketman, that’s not right….

    People in this weblog- you are letting out
    “the secret’ of how Visayans always seems to
    dish out masarap ‘kitchen ni Lola coking”…
    L.O.L…this is not right!!! I’m ON protest…

    Where I’m coming from? Paternal elders from
    Ilocos Norte and Maternal elders from Cebu(Talisay
    Leyte,Bacolod-Camiguine island…all brought together
    in Mindanao(Mis.Occ)…other Lola from Samal island…
    T’boli? ha ha ha ha…….

    I always enjoy your bolgg site…chilli Tamale

  20. Hi Marketman,

    I always love reading your blog. I’d been a follower for nearly a year now. Your ginamos reminds me of the Bicolano balaw. It looks exactly like this and we toast it or dry fry it a little bit and then we add it in pretty much anything that has coconut milk in it. Sometimes we would even use it as a condiment for grilled vegetables. We again just toast it or dry fry it then add it in coconut oil, add siling labuyo and some kalamansi juice. I miss balaw….

  21. Manong Apicio: are you really back in town? If you are, I shall send you a care package so you don’t have to do the “bakya version”!!!! I just want to make sure the package will be received by someone and not mailed back to sender!



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