Friday, June 11, 2010

Bagoong Fried Rice (Sinangag sa Bagoong)

We just attended a Sri Lankan wedding reception of an officemate and friend where we were served and have really consumed rather large quantities of spicy and tasty Sri Lankan dishes. Having a typical Filipino taste though, that is not quite exposed or accustomed to such heavily curried and spiced dishes; we immediately crave for some light Filipino dishes the following morning. Not only to fill the belly or satisfy the want, but to refresh our taste buds which suffered quite a beating from lots of chilies, curry and many other spices pretty normal for Sri Lankan and Indian dishes but alien to Filipino cuisine.

Finding some day-old leftover rice, we immediately thought of making Filipino fried rice or “sinangag” for our breakfast. Thinking with some fried eggs and dried fish from Cebu City, Philippines as viands, we are sure of having a wonderful morning meal to fuel us for the days work. Whilst simple garlic fried rice could well fulfill the requirement, we considered of making it more special and elaborate by preparing “bagoong” fried rice instead. With the authentic Filipino condiment “bagoong” or fish paste as the major flavoring ingredient, I thought what could be more Filipino food at the moment than this breakfast dish?

This “sinangag” recipe is not really very popular but considered a welcome, nice and exciting alternative for the everyday fried rice that Filipinos usually cooked in the morning like, of course, the all-time favorite and mentioned above garlic fried rice and the more sophisticated Chinese influenced version “yang chow” fried rice. This “bagoong” fried rice is actually more similar to another yummy but relatively uncommon “sinangag” called dried fish fried rice, the first fried rice dish I prepared and featured in this blog.

As mentioned before, fried rice, whilst basically made from leftover steamed rice, is actually usually better than the original steamed rice as far as taste and texture are concerned. It may not always be every Filipinos’ preference during main meals but it is always heavily favored and requested during breakfast. I hope that this “bagoong” fried rice dish will become another hit “sinangag” for Filipinos who love rice and “bagoong” as much as they love their parents.

To cook the dish, we need the following ingredients: 3 cups of day-old leftover rice, mashed to separate the grains, 1½ tbsp vegetable oil, 4 gloves garlic, peeled and minced, 1 small onion, peeled and minced, 2 pcs tomatoes, diced, several stalks of green onion leaves, minced, 1 tbsp fresh “bagoong” or fish paste, a pinch of ground pepper and salt to taste (you might not really need it).

The cooking process is simple and straightforward. In a large pan or wok, over medium-high flame setting, heat the oil and fry garlic. When slightly browned, add in onion until cooked through and translucent. Then add the tomatoes and continue frying until tomatoes are just soft. Add the fish paste followed by the green onion and continue sautéing for several minutes or until all ingredients are well blended.

Add the rice and continue frying on high heat. Continue stirring with regular breaking of rice lumps to properly separate the grains. Cook until rice is well heated through and all flavors have blended. Taste the rice and season it with some salt if still necessary.

Transfer in medium plate and serve immediately. It is best to eat while still smoking hot and really fragrant. But careful though! :-)

Some half-cooked scrambled eggs and fried dried “danggit” and squid are my prefer accompaniment for this delicious rice dish. They make a truly yummy breakfast meal ……… now my taste buds are fully renewed and ready for spicier regional dishes. Bring it on! c”,)

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