It was once described as “the stinky secret weapon of Filipino food”. Bagoong (pronounced bago-ong) is made partially or completely of fermented fish or krill, or shrimp paste with salt. The scent, even to the most ardent fans, is bound to stun. However, no other ingredient or condiment can take its place with its complex flavours and intense umami.
You do not have to take our word for it. We gathered a few of our favourite chefs to weigh in on this revered Filipino pantry staple:
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His irreverent approach to Filipino food classics at the popular Locavore is instrumental in shifting the local food scene’s perception of modern Filipino cuisine. Perhaps his palate got an early education from eating green mangoes and singkamas smothered in bagoong that he bought from the vendors outside his house. For chef Mikel Zaguirre, the best kind of bagoong is “stewed for hours,” chunky, and with a sweet/salty/spicy balance that will go well with his top five bagoong dishes: kare-kare, pork binagoongan, green mango with bagoong, bagoong rice, and a simple pork and sofrito stir-fry called basa alamang.