Whenever friends ask me what brand of bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) or bagoong isda (fish paste) we use, I proudly tell them that we never buy instead we (meaning my Mom) make our own. If you reside outside the Philippines, you know how costly a mere bottle or can (they’ve recently introduced this in the market to avoid accidental spillage during international transport) can be. Why not make your very own, this way you’re assured of a clean preparation. You can even reserve the clear liquid that you’ll obtain from making the fish paste and use it as fish sauce (locally known as patis). Ready?
1 cup rock salt
3 cups anchovies/dilis (for fish paste) or shrimp fry (for shrimp paste)
For fish paste
- Place anchovies in strainer and rinse under running tap water.
- Drain well.
- In a bowl, place anchovies and add rock salt.
- Mix well (hint: the best way to mix it is with your hands, wear plastic gloves if you hate the clinging smell)
- Transfer mixture into a tightly sealed plastic or glass container. Don’t fill the container to the brim. Leave some air space to allow it to properly ferment.
- Keep in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight for 1-2 months. You can even store it for a longer period of time.
- Serve as is with a dash of lemon, dayap or kalamansi, or you can also cook it (see directions below).
For shrimp paste
- Clean shrimp fry by removing any debris (read as small fishes or clams that may have inadvertently been included).
- In a bowl, place shrimp fries and rock salt.
- Follow the mixing and storing directions as that of the fish paste.
If you desire to serve it cooked, here are the ingredients:
1 cup fish or shrimp paste
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, minced
about 2 inches ginger, minced
1 tablespoon vinegar (for shrimp paste)
2 tablespoons or more (if you prefer it to be sweet) brown sugar (for shrimp paste)
- Heat oil in a saucepan.
- Sauté garlic, ginger and onion.
- Add fish or shrimp paste. Cook at low heat for 5 minutes. *If you are cooking fish paste then you are already done. Serve and enjoy.
- Add sugar and mix well.
- Add vinegar and leave untouched for 5 minutes.
- Stir a little and remove from heat.
You can keep the cooked fish or shrimp paste in a tightly sealed glass bottle. For those who prefer a spicy taste, you can add some chilli flakes or small red hot pepper.