Filipino delicacy: what do chefs like to eat bagoong with?

Photo: Getty Images

By Jaclyn Clemente Koppe

May 18, 2021

We asked some of Metro Manila’s top chefs to share stories about this Filipino delicacy and tips on how to eat it.

It was once described as “the stinky secret weapon of Filipino food”. Bagoong (pronounced bago-ong) is made partially or completely from fermented fish or krill, or shrimp paste with salt. The scent, even for the most ardent fans, is doomed to stun. However, no other ingredient or condiment can take its place with its complex flavors and intense umami.

You don’t have to take our word for it. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite chefs to weigh in on this revered Filipino pantry staple:

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Mikel Zaguirre

His irreverent take on Filipino food classics at popular Locavore is helping to change the local culinary scene’s perception of modern Filipino cuisine. Perhaps his palate received an early education by eating green mangoes and singkamas muffled bagoong which he bought from sellers outside his house. For chef Mikel Zaguirre, the best type of bagoong is “cooked for hours”, hearty and with a sweet / salty / spicy balance that will go well with its top five bagoong dishes: kare-karepork binagoongan, green mango with bagoong, bagoong rice, and a simple pork and sofrito jumped called basa alamang.

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Aaron Isip |  Photo: Francisco 'Paco' Guerrero
Aaron Isip | Photo: Francisco ‘Paco’ Guerrero

Aaron Isip

After a very successful stint in the most illustrious kitchens of Paris, chef Aaron Isip returned to Manila, a famous hero. We experience his refined skills as a master saucier in his latest Gastronômade Manila adventure where he bottles unique and tasty sauces inspired by his travels. Chef Aaron grew up around the Ilonggo version of bagoong called Ginamos. Like most of those who grew up in the Philippines, he learned to appreciate the ingredient early on by eating “street snacks like green mango on a stick or homemade dishes like kare-kare, etc “.

So far he prefers the Ginamos of his mother’s Ilonggo heirloom, the one made from krill, in particular “gisado, so that all the umami flavors stand out ”. He lights up when he shares his ingenious way of eating it. “Grilled pork belly with a bagoong and the vinegar is awesome! I also like it with a fire-roasted or charcoal-grilled eggplant salad with fresh tomatoes, red onions, chives and salted egg yolk.

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Tina Legarda
Tina Legarda

Tina Legarda

Of all the chefs in this illustrious line-up, it seems that Chef Tina Legarda at Bamba Bistro is the most passionate about spicy taste. His first memories of bagoong are quite poignant, his father’s short trips to the province for work, where he would bring home some local goodies. “I think my turning point was the bottle of Alavar bagoong of Zamboanga, ”recalls Chief Tina. “To this day, it remains one of my favorites.”

She is very particular also on the way she likes her bagoong. “I appreciate bagoong Alamang gisado. Specifically, the one that contains a lot of garlic, sugar, chilli and pieces of pork fat. I also prefer my bagoong scorching. ”His staff meals at the restaurant have also awakened his love for dishes that blend pork, coconut milk, and chili peppers. bagoong. “We never used to have this at home growing up, but when I was working and had coworkers cooking this expertly, I was in heaven.”

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Stephan Duhesme
Stephan Duhesme

Stephan Duhesme

Chef Stephan Duhesme has always loved food, so it was only a matter of time until he decided to cook as a career learning from the best in the busiest kitchens of New York, Tokyo. , Manila, until the opening of his own restaurant in Bogotá where he spent three years. He returned home to open Metiz and despite the international training and multicultural influences of his cuisine, he simply describes his food as “Filipino”.

Like most, the initial half-French, half-Filipino experience with bagoong was as a condiment with green mangoes and kare-kare (“Nothing too unusual here,” he observes). He forced himself to swallow the stuff so as not to offend those who served it but would eventually learn to appreciate it. “The more you try to figure it out, sometimes you get a thrilling ‘Eureka’ moment,” he explains. Now he considers ginisang bagoong alamang as a “do everything Sawsawan“. He likes it with kare-kare, of course, but he notes that a good bagoong can be eaten even just with rice or, in its case, with eggs.

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Hapag’s Men (Thirdy Dolatre, John Kevin Navoa, Kevin Villarica)

You would think that with their revolutionary take on Filipino cuisine at Hapag, chefs Kevin Navoa and Kevin Villarica would have been adventurous eaters from a young age. Both admit to having been “forced” by their mother to eat bagoong. For Navoa, it was bagoong’s in association with kare-kare that extinguished it. “I remember being young and I thought that kare-karWe looked unappetizing and weird, ”he admits. Only the third member of this triumvirate, chef Thirdy Dolatre, who took the condiment wholeheartedly. He recalls family trips to the beach where his uncle would cut green mangoes and “bring out his freshly baked, sweet and spicy fruit. bagoong with pieces of grilled pork fat ”.

Now Villarica enjoys the bagoong they are homemade at the restaurant, which he describes as “very winged, sweet and spicy”. To him, bagoong made of his mom Ginataang gulay “the best”. Chef Thirdy agrees that it does wonders for casseroles made with coconut milk, as well as the perfect accompaniment to sautéed and grilled vegetables. Navoa swears he hasn’t been back since a family member taught him to eat sinigang with bagoong and calamansi. “If you haven’t tried it,” says Navoa, “I strongly suggest you start now and it will change the way you eat. sinigang n / A baboy always”.

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Carlos Villaflor
Carlos Villaflor

Carlos Villaflor, Gallery By Chele

While exercising his creative muscles as an executive sous chef at Gallery by Chele, Carlos enjoys keeping his home Filipino cuisine simple and straightforward. He appreciates bagoong with kare-kare like the way his grandmother served him or cooked in dishes like Bicol Express and BInagoongan Baboy. He likes Ginisang bagoong Alamang for its versatility – “it can be paired with anything, and it can also be a little sweet and very spicy.”

Chef Carlos admits that “kare-kare with a voucher bagoongIs still a nostalgic favorite, or Ginataang Kohol (snails) with kangkong that his grandmother cooked very well.

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