The second time I've tasted good homemade bagoong was in Jing's house in Tagaytay. That was where I learned to add chunks of crispy pork and browned garlic as toppings.
Then recently, an attorney I've met at a party, taught me his secret of making bagoong. He even "exports" it to his relatives in Europe. He adds tomatoes to his version but I asked it, Won't it spoil easily if you add fresh tomatoes? He said, in cooking anything with tomatoes, you have to make sure you saute it really well, until almost brown and wilted.
So... I have incorporated everybody's advice and the result was.... really ......... WOW !!!!! to the nth degree! I couldn't stop eating! If I could let everybody taste it, I will. hahahaha I take that back! I will be greedy this time.
I think the most important ingredient is the alamang. I bought mine from the market of Balanga, Bataan last weekend. I just texted Mayette that I want to go back just to buy alamang!!!! It wasn't salty at all and I didn't even have to rinse it.
As I was cooking my bagoong guisado.... I accidentally learned how to make homemade chicharon bits!!!!
I have a strip of boiled (in salted water) pork skin with a little fat on it... about 8 x 3 ... stored in the freezer for a couple of months. I let it thaw and cut into small cubes... as small as a finger nail.... then put it in a heavy wok with cover. I used super low heat to render the fat from the pork. After a while, when I heard popping sounds already, I switched off the flame... let it rest then opened the cover, stirred and separated the pork pieces. Then I put back the cover and cooked over low flame for a few more minutes. I never, never open the lid when I'm rendering fat from the pork. DANGEROUS!!!
Then after several more minutes of waiting for the popping sounds to end ... I opened the cover. I saw the bits of pieces of pork was already crunchy BUT.... it looked hard/crunchy to me. I said to myself....
"I wonder what will happen if I add about 2 T. of water????" I know when cooking Lechon Kawali you have to sprinkle water while frying to make it crunchy. So... I added slowly 2 T. of water... the pan sizzled a little but at least the oil did not splatter. I covered it again and this time cooked over medium heat. Just for a few minutes until I heard the popping sounds.
Remember to always let it cool before opening the lid. Very Important!
I was so surprised to see that the chunks of pork fat expanded! Like a real chicharon! Ohhhh and when you bite into it, it melts in your mouth! I kid you not!!!!! I set it aside to be used as topping for my bagoong guisado.
Bagoong Guisado Recipe
1/4 K. alamang
2 heads garlic, crushed
1 onion, sliced
1 ripe tomato, sliced
2 red sili, whole
1/2 C. Datu Puti vinegar
4 T. brown sugar
Brown the garlic in the fat rendered from the pork. Set aside for topping. Saute the onion and tomato until brown and wilted. Add the alamang... cook for several minutes then add the vinegar, brown sugar and sili. Do not stir yet.... wait for 3 to 5 minutes. When the bagoong is almost dry but still with a little liquid, turn off flame, transfer to a serving dish, then top with chunks of homemade chicharon bits and browned garlic.