There are certain foods that I could easily associate with being a Filipino, and Bagoong is definitely one of them.
In Tagalog, Bagoong is used to denote shrimp paste but there is also such a thing as Bagoong Isda, which makes use of tiny fish instead of shrimp. Both are popular in my hometown Davao but since I moved to Luzon in 2005, I have yet to encountere the fish-based bagoong here. However, the shrimp paste is still commonly used to give food that funky added kick.
For one, we use it as a dip for green mangoes. It is a very popular street food now and should you try to buy green mangoes from a vendor, they would usually ask if you'd like to have Bagoong with it.
Red and I also love having Bagoong as our dip when we fry some of our homegrown eggplant and ochro.
Bagoong is also used on some of the most popular Filipino dishes to "enhance" its taste. Kare-Kare, a Philippine stew with peanut-based sauce, is usually served with Bagoong.
Recently, I was able to prepare Pakbet, which is also great with Bagoong. It's packed with our favorite veggies, like the eggplant, ochro, bitter gourd, and squash. It's one of the staple meals here in the Philippines.
How about you? Have you tried the Bagoong? What do you like to pair it with?