garlic shrimp

Garlic Shrimp with Bagoong Butter

We’ve only been cooped up in the house for 2 days and I’m already bouncing off the walls. So what do I do to pass the time while the kids are on their screens? After sorting the canned goods and arranging the noodles according to nationality and style, I decided to see what I could cook from ingredients I pulled out of the fridge and freezer. 

Here’s what I found:

  • 1/3 lb white Pacific shrimp or tiger prawns
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
  • 1.5 tsp bagoong (sauteed shrimp paste)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 1/4 cup cooking sake

Bagoong is a Filipino ingredient that is comprised of fermented baby shrimp made into a paste. It has the pungency of fish sauce and flavour can range from super funk to slightly mellower super funk. It depends on whether you get the sauteed version or the regular version. Filipinos usually enjoy bagoong as a seasoning condiment for kare kare (an oxtail peanut stew) or on the side with some grilled eggplant and green mango.

In today’s recipe, we will use a little of the bagoong’s umami kick to give our butter a huge flavour boost which will go nicely with the sauteed shrimp and garlic. This will be like the Hawaiian garlic shrimp you see on the shrimp trucks, but with a little Filipino flair.

Start by finely mincing 6 large cloves of garlic and set aside.

In a bowl, combine 1 stick of room temperature butter with a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of bagoong paste. You can set it aside if you’re going to use it right away, or roll it up into a torchon in kitchen wrap and refrigerate for later. It’s an excellent compound butter that you can use for many kinds of seafood or a quick add to noodles.

Heat up a teaspoon of oil in a nonstick pan on medium-high heat. Add the shrimp (about ⅓ lb) to the pan and saute gently for about a minute, moving as you go. Add 3 tablespoons of the bagoong butter and continue to cook until the shrimp are almost opaque. Add the garlic and fried shallots, continuing to move the shrimp around the pan. Finally, deglaze the pan with about a ¼ cup of sake. Let that cook off until you have a nice garlicky butter sauce. Remove from heat, put into a serving plate, and finish with chopped scallions.

Garlic shrimp is usually served with steamed rice. You can also pair them with a simple noodle or pasta, add them to your kamayan menu, or simply serve them as a bar snack with your favourite beer or wine.