Posted in Recipes

Spicy Shrimp Sauce

Spicy Shrimp Sauce 1

For years, I have been making a shrimp curry dish that incorporates Indian spices, along with fermented shrimp paste, in a tomato based sauce. The sauce is something I have always made on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, but I have long wanted to try a ‘make-ahead’ sauce that could be used to quickly put together a nice Shrimp curry, or even be used as a sauce with other meats or vegetables. I finally got around to doing it just a few days ago… Continue reading “Spicy Shrimp Sauce”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Bagoóng Alamáng

Bagoong 1

If you have ever perused any Filipino cookery books, or Filipino recipes on the Internet, you have probably come across the name ‘Bagoong’ from time to time. Most sources confidently assert that ‘Bagoong’ is a fermented shrimp paste but this is only partly correct as there are many varieties made with fish as well. The fish types are collectively known by the name ‘Bagoóng Isdâ’, but there are also specific names depending on the type of fish being used. If a Bagoong is made with shrimp, however (and most commonly the super tiny variety known as ‘krill’, is used), then, strictly speaking, it should be called Bagoóng Alamáng.

Like Terasi and Belcan, or Chinese Shrimp Paste, the Filipino variety is manufactured by allowing small shrimp to ferment with salt. However, in the Philippines, the ‘raw’ product is only used in limited ways (generally as a condiment on cooked rice or fresh fruit), and, instead, it is generally cooked before packaging for sale, often with other ingredients such as garlic, chili or onion. Sometime ago, I actually featured the Lingayen Brand in a foodstuff post (which is a fairly complex variety), but I didn’t specifically identify it as a ‘Bagoong Alamang’. Here, I thought I might use the ‘Barrio Fiesta’ brand as a vehicle for a general discussion of the condiment as it is a pretty decent representative of the type … Continue reading “Foodstuff: Bagoóng Alamáng”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Brine Pickled Daikon

Daikon Pickle 01

Today, I am going to be using some of my wife’s homegrown Daikon to make a very simple but tasty brine-fermented pickle. Since our Daikon yield this past season was very small, the tiny daikon we grew can be pickled whole rather than cut up in chunks as is more common.

Most people are familiar with the Korean style of pickle known as Kimchi, but usually only with the very popular type in which vegetables, most notably cabbage, are fermented in a fiery medium containing lots of chili powder or paste. A lesser known type (at least outside of Korea), is the sort sometimes referred to as ‘Water Kimchi’ is simply made using a clear brine. This sort, most commonly made with a radish of some sort, also usually combines other mild flavor additions such as green onions, ginger and, especially popular in Korea, sliced Asian pear. Today, my recipe will be very simple indeed. As such, there is nothing particularly Korean about it but it does capture the basic idea and is thus a good introduction to the process of brine-pickling in general…  Continue reading “Brine Pickled Daikon”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Shrimp Paste – Lingayen™ Brand

Lingayen Shrimp Paste 1

I have featured a number of fermented shrimp products in these pages, including the dried paste variety used in South-East Asian cookery known as Terassi or Belacan, and the Lee Kum Kee version of a Chinese style Shrimp Paste. When I saw this particular product on our local store shelves, I initially assumed that it was a sauce of some type intended for stir-frying shrimp but, after closer inspection, I realized that the shrimp ‘fry’ refers to the baby shrimp typically dried and fermented to make culinary pastes and that the word ‘fry’ is used in the same sense as ‘small fry’ when referring to tiny fish.

The Lingayen™ Brand variety is a product of the Philippines (some may remember the name from the WW2 naval battle of Lingayen Gulf), and the paste, I was interested to learn, is a bit different than its Chinese and South-East Asian counterparts… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Shrimp Paste – Lingayen™ Brand”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Mussels Steamed with Black Beans

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 1

Steaming Oysters with a sauce made from Salted Black Beans is a favorite Cantonese preparation, and one I have enjoyed many times. Unfortunately, fresh oysters are just about impossible to come by in this part of the world and so, for this experiment, I  am going to improvise using some lovely New Zealand Mussels I happen to have in my freezer. The variety, somewhat erroneously sold as ‘Kiwi Clams’, is the same type I used (and photographed) for my Bouillabaisse experiment over the Christmas holidays and they should work very nicely with the rich, umami flavor of black beans paired with garlic and chili… Continue reading “Mussels Steamed with Black Beans”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Gochujang – Korean Chili Paste

Gochujang 1

The range of chili pastes available to the adventurous cook is almost inexhaustible and many countries have their own traditional styles for making them. Some are fairly simple, containing little other than chili and salt, whilst others typically contain other more complex additions. Many are fermented to some degree.

The primary Korean chili product is a smooth, umami paste known as Gochujang. The name simply means hot pepper paste and is clearly cognate with the Mandarin, làjiāo jiàng (辣椒醬). The basic paste is made with glutinous rice flour and fermented soybeans (often as a powder) with some sort of sweetener such as sugar or honey usually being added before being aged. The process produces a unique result that makes for a very useful and versatile product in the pantry… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Gochujang – Korean Chili Paste”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand Shrimp Sauce

Before running out and buying this product, prospective purchasers should be aware that the English description of this product on the front of the label as simply ‘Shrimp Sauce’, isn’t a very descriptive indicator of the contents. The Chinese characters above the English name are not a lot more helpful; the last two characters (pronounced xiājiàng) mean ‘shrimp paste’, while the first two are best translated as ‘creamy’, which roughly accords with the ‘finely ground’ descriptor in brackets.

In fact, this is a fermented product and, as such, is a Chinese version of the dried pastes,  Belacan and Terasi, which I have featured in the past. It is also, in some respects, a distant cousin of Korean Salted Shrimp, and thus has a pretty pungent quality that many won’t find palatable. Personally, I like the strong umami taste that fermented shrimp products add to many dishes, but I also have to say that, of all the types available, I find that the Chines varieties in general, and this brand in particular, are my least favorite… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand Shrimp Sauce”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Chili Bamboo Shoots

For years, my only experience with bamboo shoots was those awful bland strips that came in cans. If you rinsed them long enough to get rid of the nasty ‘canned’ taste, you always ended up washing away whatever other residual flavor they might have had. In recent years, however, I have been able to enjoy a variety of commercial products featuring shoots that have been lightly fermented and then packaged either in a brine or oil. My wife and I are especially fond of those pickled with chili, as is the one you see pictured above… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Chili Bamboo Shoots”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Korean Salted Shrimp

Tiny shrimp fermented with salt are a basic foodstuff in all sorts of Korean preparations. There are many culinary parallels in cuisines around the world… fish sauce in Thailand and Vietnam, or Belacan in Malaysia, for example …  and even in the west we use anchovy paste as an umami fillip in such things as Italian tomato sauce. For a lot of people, though, the pungent flavor of fermented seafood products is a bit much, at least in the raw state, but it is a taste that I just love.  Continue reading “Foodstuff: Korean Salted Shrimp”