The Philippines is well-known for possessing a very colorful, flavorful cuisine because of a large variation of seasonings and spices at our disposal. We’ve been able to mix and match arguably some of the best flavors because of these ingredients. But one seasoning that definitely can’t get left behind in the discussion of Filipino classics is bagoong. It adds a certain level of savor and umami that feels hard to replicate. This is why dishes featuring bagoong as the hero are able to really shine. Take our Binagoongang Talong as an example.
It is a glorious array of garlic, onions, vinegar, chili pepper, eggplant, and of course, the unmistakable bagoong alamang or fermented shrimp paste. While on its own, bagoong alamang is able to bring richness to a dish, it gets even better with these flavorful ingredients. This is how it is able to hype up a seemingly simple dish in eggplant or talong. We stew sliced eggplants in these components to make it shine.
This is how the dish also works amazingly well even without pork (here is the recipe with pork, by the way). But this recipe also offers the possibility of adding some meat to the mix.
And so while we’re at it, let’s get to cooking some Binagoongang Talong:
Frying the eggplant:
The first step for this will be putting 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in a cooking pot. Wait for this to heat up, then you can place your 2 pieces of eggplant you’ve sliced inside. Make sure to fry each side of the eggplant for 1 ½ minute. Then take this off the pan, and set it aside, as we turn to cooking up the ingredients that will add some flavor to the talong.
Creating our delicious binagoongan stew:
Place 3 cloves of garlic that you’ve chopped into the pot. We’ll be sautéing this with the oil we have left from earlier. Once the garlic is light brown, you can start adding your onion and tomato, both of which you’ve chopped beforehand. We’ll be sautéing these with our garlic until the onion gets soft.
Then we can put our 3 ounces of pork, as well as 4 chili peppers that are chopped. For this step, you can choose to forego the pork depending on your preference. Then cook these ingredients up together until the pork is good to go. An indicator of this is when it turns light brown.
Now for that delicious umami taste, place your 3 ½ tablespoons of bagoong alamang in the pot. You can go a long way flavor-wise with just this amount. Cook this up with the rest of your ingredients for 1 minute. Then start pouring ¾ cup of water, as well as 1 tablespoon of vinegar into the pot. Just wait for it to boil, then once it starts doing so, we can let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes. This really ensures that all the flavors— from the powerful vinegar to our salty garlic— seeps into the binagoongan stew.
Integrating the fried talong into the binagoongan:
Then we’ll get on to a very important step, which is taking our fried eggplant from earlier, and adding it to the mix! To make sure everything is mixed together well, stir your pot, then let it all cook for 1 ½ minutes.
Now you can add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, as well as your preferred amount of ground black pepper. After that, pour everything from your pot onto a serving bowl so you can immediately start dining on this delectable dish!
Perhaps this Binagoongang Talong recipe has got you thinking about creating some other dishes adopting the same yummy technique.