Bagoong is shrimp paste. It’s a common ingredient or condiment in the Philippines. Several countries in South East Asia also have their own versions of shrimp paste. In the Philippines we use bagoong for our famous dishes like kare kare (ox tail peanut stew), binagoongang baboy (pork with bagoong) and pinakbet (vegetables with bagoong) to name a few.
There are many kinds of bagoong in the Philippines. Most are salty while some are sweet or spicy. My favorite bagoong is Alavar bagoong made with gata (coconut cream). Ever since my friend Vivian gave me a bottle I was hooked. Alavar is a seafood restaurant in Zamboanga City located in Mindanao, a province down South. Their bagoong is not salty nor sweet but rich and creamy from being cooked with coconut cream.
As far as I know, Alavar bagoong is only available in Zamboanga. Since I have to rely on Vivian for my supply of Alavar bagoong, I use it sparingly. I don’t use it for cooking because it will use up too much of my precious stock. So these are the ways I savor bagoong.
The most popular use for bagoong is to eat it with green mangoes which are basically unripe mangoes. These mangoes are firm and sour. Filipinos love the contrast of sour mangoes with salty bagoong. I go for a riper and softer mango that’s not too sour with the milder and more flavorful Alavar bagoong.
green mangoes w/ bagoong
I also make a green mango salad made from shredded green mangoes, tomatoes and bagoong. This salad is a perfect garnish to dishes like inihaw na liempo (grilled pork belly) or fried fish.
green mango salad
But my favorite way of eating bagoong is with crispy lechon kawali (fried pork belly). I got the idea from Via Mare‘s dish called crispy binagoongan. This is my take on that.
Alavar’s Restaurant Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City