Bagoong (pronounced “bah-goh-ong”), or bagoong monamon, is a fish sauce used as a popular condiment in the Philippines. It is also used in Hawaii and other regions of the Pacific. The sauce is made with anchovies or other varieties of small fish that have been cleaned, salt cured, and allowed to ferment for a period of time, which may be as long as several weeks or even months.
After the fermentation process is complete, a thin layer of clear liquid rises to the surface of the bagoong. This liquid, called patis, is separated from the more viscous part of the sauce and is also used as a condiment. The two are similar in taste and odor, if not in texture, and may be used as substitutes for each other in recipes.
Bagoong is typically a dark brick-red color, though food dyes may be added to give it a purplish hue. In addition to dried fish, it may also be made with salted and fermented shrimp, in which case it is called bagoong alamang. The smell is extremely pungent and some consider it offensive, on par with that of rotten fish.
The sauce is typically used to replace salt and enhance flavor, as one would use soy sauce or a similar flavoring agent. It is a popular accompaniment to traditional Filipino dishes such as pinakbet, inabraw, and kinilnat. It is also served as a dip with green mango, hard-boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, and fried fish.
Bagoong is sold in Asian groceries in jars. The texture may range from a smooth, pourable sauce resembling pureed fish to a thicker paste with chunks of salted fish suspended in it. If preparing a recipe that calls for bagoong but this ingredient is unavailable, other varieties of fish sauce may be substituted. The Thai nam pla, the Vietnamese nuoc mam, or the Japanese shottsuru may be used instead.