Bagoóng (Tagalog pronunciation: [bɐɡuˈoŋ]; buh-goo-ONG) is a Philippine condiment partially or completely made of either fermented fish (bagoóng) or krill or shrimp paste (alamáng) with salt.[1] The fermentation process also produces fish sauce known as patís.[2]

Traditional burnay jars containing fermenting bagoong in Ilocos Norte
Region or statePhilippines
Associated cuisinePhilippines
Main ingredientsFish

The preparation of bagoóng can vary regionally in the Philippines.[3]


Bagoóng is usually made from a variety of fish species, including the following:[1][4]

Bagoóng alamáng is made by fermenting krill in salt
Bagoong alamang sauteed with tomatoes, garlic, and onion with pork chicharon
  • Anchovies - known as dilis, monamon, bolinaw, or gurayan (Stolephrus and Encrasicholina species)
  • Round scads - known as galunggóng or tamodios (Decapterus species)
  • Bonnetmouths (redbait or rubyfish) - known as terong (Emmelichthys nitidus, Emmelichthys struhsakeri, and Plagiogeneion rubiginosum)
  • Ponyfish - known as sapsáp (Leiognathus, Photopectoralis, and Equulites species)
  • Rabbitfish - known as padas (Siganus species)
  • Bar-eyed gobies - known as ipon (Glossogobius giuris)
  • Herrings - Clupeoides lila
  • Silver perch - known as ayungin (Leiopotherapon plumbeus)

Bagoóng made from fish is encompassed by the term bagoóng isdâ (lit. "fish bagoong") in Luzon and northern parts of the Visayas. They can be distinguished further by the type of fish they are made of. Those made from anchovies are generally known as bagoong monamon or bagoong dilis and those from bonnetmouths as bagoong terong.[5]

In the southern Visayas and Mindanao, fish bagoong made from anchovies is known as guinamos (also spelled ginamos). Larger fermented fish are known as tinabal.[6]

Bagoong can also be made from krill. This type of bagoong is known as bagoong alamang. It is called uyap or alamang in the southern Philippines, aramang in Ilocos and parts of Northern Luzon, and ginamos or dayok in western Visayas.[7][8]

In rarer instances, it can also be made from oysters, clams, and fish and shrimp roe.[9][10] A kind of bagoong made in the town of Balayan, Batangas is also known as bagoong Balayan.[8]


Guinamos (fish bagoong) with tomatoes and onions from Cebu

Bagoong isda and bagoong alamang

Bagoong isda is prepared by mixing salt and fish usually by volume; mixture proportions are proprietary depending on the manufacturer. The salt and fish are mixed uniformly, usually by hand.[11] The mixture is kept inside large earthen fermentation jars (known as tapayan in Tagalog and Visayan languages, and burnay in Ilocano).[12] It is covered, to keep flies away, and left to ferment for 30–90 days with occasional stirring to make sure the salt is spread evenly. The mixture can expand significantly during the process.[3]

The preparation of bagoong alamang (shrimp or krill paste) is similar, with krill cleaned thoroughly and washed in weak brine solution (10%). As in fish bagoong, the shrimp are then mixed with salt in a 25% salt to 75% shrimp ratio by weight.[3]

The products of the fermentation process are usually pale gray to white in color. To obtain the characteristic red or pink color of some bagoong, a kind of food coloring known as angkak is added. Angkak is made from rice inoculated with a species of red mold (Monascus purpureus).[11] High-quality salt with little mineral impurities is preferred. High metallic content in the salt used can often result in darker colors to the resulting bagoong and a less agreeable undertaste. Likewise, oversalting and undersalting also has a significant impact on the rate and quality of fermentation due to their effects on the bacteria involved in the process.[3] Some manufacturers grind the fermented product finely and sell the resulting mixture as fish paste.[13]

Bagoong alamang from Malolos, Bulacan


Patís or fish sauce is a byproduct of the fermentation process. It is a clear, yellowish liquid that floats above the fermented mixture, and has a sharp salty or cheese-like flavor.[3] Sauces similar to patís include nước mắm in Vietnam, nam pha (ນ້ຳປາ) in Laos, hom ha in China, nam pla in Thailand, shottsuru in Japan and saeu chot in Korea, as well as the garum of ancient Greece and the Roman empire. Indonesia has an East Javanese condiment called petis (pronounced similar to patís in Filipino): a paste made from the caramelized fermented reduction of pindang broth, a spicy and tangy herbal soup typically containing fish or shrimp (occasionally, beef or eggs).

To obtain patís, fermentation is longer, usually taking six months to a year. During the longer fermentation processes, the fish or shrimp constituents disintegrate further, producing a clear yellowish liquid on top of the mixture due to hydrolysis. This is the patis; it can be harvested once it has developed its characteristic smell. It is drained, pasteurized, and bottled separately, while the residue is turned into bagoong.[3] If the residual solids are not moist enough, brine is usually added.[1] The rate of fermentation can vary depending on the pH levels of the mixture and the temperature. Exposure to sunlight can also reduce the amount of time required to two months.[3]


Over the centuries, western unfamiliarity with bagoong has given it a reputation as an "exotic" dish, portrayed in a positive or negative light depending on the point of view of the writer. For example, one early description was Spanish colonial official Antonio de Morga, whose book Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Events in the Philippine Isles) included a description of bagoong as "fish which ... has started to rot and stink."[14] This later prompted preeminent Philippine nationalist Jose Rizal to denounce the descriptions in his 1890 annotation, saying:

This is another preoccupation of the Spaniards who, like any other nation, treat food to which they are not accustomed or is unknown to them with disgust. ... This fish that Morga mentions, that cannot be good until it begins to rot, is bagoong and those who have eaten it and tasted it know that it neither is nor should be rotten.[14]

See also

  • Bagoong fried rice
  • Balao-balao
  • Binagoongan
  • Burong isda
  • Dayok
  • List of fermented foods
  • List of fish sauces
  • Taba ng talangka
  • Palapa


  1. J. Dagoon (2000). Agriculture & Fishery Technology III. Rex Bookstore, Inc. pp. 242–243. ISBN 978-971-23-2822-0.
  2. National Research Council (U.S.). Panel on the Applications of Biotechnology to Traditional Fermented Foods (1992). Applications of biotechnology to traditional fermented foods: report of an ad hoc panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development. National Academies. pp. 132–133. ISBN 9789712328220.
  3. Priscilla C. Sanchez (2008). Philippine fermented foods: principles and technology. UP Press. p. 424. ISBN 978-971-542-554-4.
  4. Elmer-Rico E. Mojica; Alejandro Q. Nato Jr.; Maria Edlyn T. Ambas; Chito P. Feliciano; Maria Leonora D.L. Francisco; Custer C. Deocaris (2005). "Application of Irradiation as Pretreatment Method in the Production of Fermented Fish Paste" (PDF). Journal of Applied Sciences Research. 1 (1): 90–94. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 3, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  5. L. Basbas (2007). Learning & Living in the 21st Century. Rex Bookstore, Inc. p. 129. ISBN 978-971-23-4724-5.
  6. Eslao-Alix, Louella (August 8, 2018). "Inun-unan". Cebu Daily News. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  7. "Ginisang Uyap/Guinamos a la Marketman". MarketManila. April 10, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  8. Reynaldo G. Alejandro; Doreen G. Fernandez (1998). Food of the Philippines. Tuttle Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-962-593-245-3.
  9. Eve Zibart (2001). The Ethnic Food Lover's Companion: A Sourcebook for Understanding the Cuisines of the World. Menasha Ridge Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-89732-372-7.
  10. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1990). Utilization of tropical foods: animal products : compendium on technological and nutritional aspects of processing and utilization of tropical foods, both animal and plant, for purposes of training and field reference. Food & Agriculture Org. p. 34. ISBN 978-92-5-102878-0.
  11. National Research Council (U.S.). Board on Science and Technology for International Development (1988). Fisheries technologies for developing countries: report of an ad hoc panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, Office of International Affairs, National Research Council. National Academies. p. 163. ISBN 9780309037884.
  12. Chris Rowthorn; Greg Bloom (2006). Lonely planet: Philippines. Lonely Planet. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-74104-289-4.
  13. Home Economics and Livelihood Education 5. Rex Bookstore, Inc. 1990. p. 409. ISBN 978-971-23-0033-2.
  14. Rizal, Jose P. (ed.) (1890). Succesos de las Islas Filipinas, por el Dr. Antonio de Morga. Paris: Libreria de Gamier Hermanos. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)
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