I wouldn’t have enjoyed my raw vegan journey if it weren’t for doing research work and getting help from raw foodie friends like Charmaine Mercado aka “The Raw Manileña”. All of Charmaine’s guest posts defy the notion that raw vegan is bland and can’t be part of the Filipino Cuisine. Charmaine proved us wrong once again with this post featuring raw vegan “seafood” paste or “bagoong”.
In the Philippines, “bagoong” is popular with green mangoes, jicama, or as condiment for Kare-kare stew. Free free to use this healthy, cruelty-free alternative!
Raw Vegan Bagoong
by: Charmaine Mercado
I had my first manifestation of seafood allergy when I was 8 years old. It happened when I ate way too much talangka (tiny crabs) in one sitting. I remember wanting to eat more but my face started to feel hot. The people I was eating with told me that my face was turning very red. My lips swelled for the very first time too, and I felt as if my heart got moved from my chest to my gums. I also started to itch and develop hives. From that day on the only types of seafood I could eat were fish, clams, oysters because I developed a cross-reaction to the other crustaceans. No more mud crab or alimango, spider crab or alimasag, prawns, lobster, shrimp, and squid for me. Which also meant no more bagoong.
There are many kinds of bagoong (fermented seafood paste) in the Philippines. Some are made of fish. The bagoong that I loved was the alamang (shrimp fry) variety. It’s also the most popular type of bagoong in the country, so it’s usually translated into English as fermented shrimp paste even if there’s also fish bagoong.
Anyway, I couldn’t give it up. I just loved the taste so much. So I kept on eating bagoong in spite of my immediate-onset allergy to it, in spite of all the lovely symptoms that flared up each time I ate it. People would tell me to stop eating because I’d turn really red and my lips doubled their size in no time (if Angelina was already famous back then they probably would have been bothered only by my red face). Still I kept on eating it until one day, I stopped developing nearly all of the symptoms. The only one that was left was itchiness in the tongue, which I completely didn’t mind because it was only slight.
I’d eat alamang bagoong with kare-kare (ox tail and vegetable stew in peanut sauce), green mango (carabao and Indian varieties), and singkamas (called jicama in the US, but locally translated into English as turnips). I’ve already tried vegan bagoong on vegan kare-kare. Both were yummy, but they were also cooked. I eat cooked vegan Pinoy dishes always with the intention of creating their raw versions, not because I’m crazy about cooked food. As a raw vegan I prefer to eat my food alive. So I worked on making raw bagoong after trying its cooked vegan counterpart. I am not going to say that what I came up with is the raw vegan dead-ringer for it, but this to me is my closest version to the real thing so far.
Raw Vegan Shrimp Paste
- 1 T cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ T dulse granules
- 2 T freshly ground flax meal
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- A tiny pinch of cayenne
- 1/8 tsp unpasteurized tamari (optional, but real bagoong is supposed to be quite salty)
- Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl. That’s it! For food combining reasons I paired the bagoong with turnips (or jicama) even if we had half a sack of Indian mangoes when I made it. The crunchy texture and the sweet, juicy taste of the singkamas perfectly complemented the salty, oceany flavor of the raw, alamang-free bagoong. I finished everything up in a few minutes. I couldn’t find a better raw vegan merienda (snack) to welcome the summer with!
Charmaine D. Mercado aka “The Raw Manileña”, a raw foodie who lives in Manila Philippines.
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