Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

Karé Karé – about the magic of the phillipine crab paste

In principle, fermented crab paste is the Filipino equivalent of Vietnamese fish sauce – or Japanese soy sauce. It forms the basis for many traditional dishes – and the typical, unique taste of the Phillipines.

Last night, Claude Tayag, Filipino chef, artist and author, cooked in Hamburg as part of a brief guest appearance. Two more days are still on the schedule for Saturday and Sunday. Highly recommended for those who decide on short notice!

For me, this was the first conscious contact with the cuisine of the island nation. Seafood is very high on the agenda here. And my two favorites last night were, accordingly, dishes centered around seafood, and especially two typical sauces of the Philippines.

Kinilaw, the Filipino version of ceviche. Vinegar replaces the lime here.

And of course, it was precisely about these sauces that I got into conversation with Claude Tayag later in the evening. We tried the Bagoong Alamang, which is the fermented shrimp paste in different varieties. Unlike the rather severe and intense Vietnamese crab paste, Mắm tôm, the Philippines’ version is much more subtle. The shrimp are also not fully fermented but still structurally recognizable, presumably the fermentation period is much shorter. Claude Tayag’s special trick: to get more of the flavor of the paste and less salt content, you can water the paste once and wash it lightly. The paste slowly settles at the bottom of the vessel, and the salt dissolves in the upper liquid part. If this top layer is poured off, the intense flavor of the shrimp remains – but without the high proportion of salt required for fermentation.

Based on the bagoong alamang thus treated, Teyag then prepared karé karé, a classic stew usually made with pork or oxtail. In its variant, however, as Seafood Stew with shrimp, squid and mussels. The sauce was supplemented with chopped peanuts, garlic and lime juice. It was accompanied by hearty dark rice. A great combination, which is certainly reminiscent of other Asian cuisines, but then in the combination of flavors is quite unique. Spiciness plays only a minor role, the basic flavor of most dishes is mainly relatively sweet and full of umami.

Seafood stew with sauce of peanut and crab paste

Likewise with my second highlight of the evening: soft-shell crabs, or butter crabs, in an intense crab sauce. This, Teyag explained, is a typical dish from his home region and not quite as common across the Philippines. Which is kind of a shame, because this was another pretty sensational recipe that, if it were available at a restaurant nearby, I would definitely order regularly. However, I have not yet discovered anything comparable, so I guess I will have to experiment with the recipes myself.

In summary, the cuisine of the Philippines has many exciting dishes and differs from other Asian countries partly complete, partly in nuances. It combines American, East Asian, and Spanish influences, which in turn have impacted the diverse regional cuisines of the Philippines. There is much to discover!

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