By Mel Fernandez
halohalo.nz – One condiment reigns supreme in any Filipino kitchen – and it’s the mainstay of so many of our popular dishes. And the humble ‘bagoong’, claim fans, is the ‘x-factor’ that can enhance the flavour of any meat, pork, vegetable or rice meals and even snacks.
The fact is, this sautéed shrimp base is in the running to be considered our national condiment. Incidentally, historical records reveal that national hero Jose Rizal was partial to bagoong with ‘burong manga’ (fermented mango).
So it comes as no surprise that one Filipino family has quietly built a nationwide restaurant chain – the Bagoong Club – that features a bagoong-centric menu, much to the delight of fans of this condiment.
The origins of bagoong can be traced back to Northern Luzon, but different areas in the county now have their own versions of it and each family clings to their secret recipes as well.
According to food writers:
“The Ilocos region has its ‘bagoóng terong’, which is made with bonnet mouth fish. Another Ilocano bagoong is ‘bugguong munamon’ – made from anchovies’. The Visayans call their version ‘ginamos’. ‘Bagoóng alamang’ is the popular variant that uses small shrimps or krill as the main ingredient.
This condiment has spicy and sweet versions. It can vary in colour and in consistency (from watery to thick). When it is made from crab the paste is dark orange and when it is made from anchovies or sardines it is a dark reddish brown.”
As the paste is salted and fermented for several weeks the pungent smell is not very appealing, actually it tastes pretty strong and salty (check out our back story about a ‘new age’ bagoong by Dr Peter Dator below).
Notwithstanding this, this condiment is the star of dishes like pinakbet, binagoongan (sautéed pork), lechon kawali and bagoong rice.
It is also served as a ‘sawsawan’ (dipping sauce) with manggang hilaw (green mango), kare-kare, saba bananas, pineapple, turnips, boiled oprah or fried eggplants and even as a bread spread or on a biscuit as pate.
‘Enjoy my bagoong without the guilt,” says doc peter
By Mel Fernandez
AUCKLAND – These days folks are starting to watch what they eat – hence the growing demand for low carb, low salt, low sugar, preservative free and organic products.
A medical practitioner in the Philippines who loves cooking has reformulated the traditional bagoong or sautéed shrimp paste to meet the demands of health conscious consumers. “My version of the condiment is low in salt, nice smelling and offers all the flavour, but it can be enjoyed without guilt,” says Dr Peter Oca Dator.
During a visit to Auckland to launch the Doc Peters Bagoong brand he told Filipino News that his cooking skills were developed at an early age while helping his mother and ‘lola’ in the kitchen.
After learning how to replicate the family recipe for bagoong he refined it through the years to make it more appealing to new age consumers. He says that friends loved the end product so much that they prodded him to bottle it so that everyone could enjoy it.
In 2018 Dr Peter steeled himself to dip his hands into bottling bagoong for market. A manufacturing facility was set up in his hometown in Victoria, Laguna and the product starting taking off in the Philippines.
He picked New Zealand as an overseas market for his range of products as he has family over here. His products are halal certified which means that they can be exported to Asian and Middle Eastern countries. “We also want to export our products on a large scale to the US and Europe so our kababayans there can easily get a taste of home,” says Dr Peter.
Doc Peter Foods also bottles ginatang langka – jackfruit in coconut milk and Pinoy laksa – banana blossom-heart cooked in coconut milk.
Doc Peter’s Bagoong is now available at Pino Plus stores in Manukau, Henderson, the North Shore and Hamilton.