Cooking, when your village is on a 24-hour lockdown, is largely a matter of making do. You scrounge around in your pantry, looking for ingredients and searching for recipes, so you can magically come up with what you hope would be an edible meal.
Which is exactly what I’ve been doing these past several days.
Fortuitously, before this lockdown happened, a cousin had given me some minuscule shrimp, known as alamang (or krill, in English). Often used to make bagoong, alamang can also be cooked into okoy and torta, and can be sautéed with assorted vegetables.
Tita Ita, my husband’s aunt, would sometimes cook alamang with kamias. It’s a very rustic dish, best eaten with hot, steaming rice—lots and lots of hot, steaming rice. I remember eating alamang with kamias a few times in her house, along with some pritong lumpia doused with a spicy vinegar-garlic dip.
With what I had in my kitchen the other day, I couldn’t cook pritong lumpia, but I sure had enough ingredients for the alamang. Using the kamias fruits that grow in my backyard, and the excellent Cabalen bagoong given to me by restaurateur Maritel Nievera, I managed to recreate Tita Ita’s alamang dish.
What I like about it is the contrast between the mild saltiness of the alamang and bagoong and the sharp tartness of the kamias. When paired with hot rice, it’s like a circus of flavors and textures, simple though the dish may be.
Here’s the recipe for alamang with kamias. During this time of lockdowns and quarantines, may you all be blessed with the ingredients you’ll need for this dish.
Alamang with Kamias
(You can use cooked alamang, available in the market, or you can cook your own alamang. If cooking your own alamang, prepare it a day ahead to give it time to dry.)
To prepare the alamang:
100 g fresh alamang (small shrimps, about 1 cup)Water, for boiling the alamangTo cook the alamang with kamias:1 tbsp cooking oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp bagoong 2 medium size kamias, cut into circles
2-3 kamias, sliced (for garnish)
1-2 ripe tomatoes (optional)
Prepare the alamang:
Wash and drain the alamang well, removing any impurities that may be mixed with the shrimps. Boil the alamang in about four cups water until the shrimps turn a light pink color. Scoop out the alamang from the water and transfer them to a strainer. Press the alamang gently to remove excess moisture. Let dry for a few hours.
Cook the alamang with kamias:
Heat the cooking oil in a medium size saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic until tender and fragrant, about one to two minutes. Stir in the bagoong and continue sautéing for another minute.
Add the cooked alamang and the kamias and stir-cook, until the kamias is tender and the alamang is heated through. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with additional kamias. Serve with hot rice and if desired, with some ripe tomatoes. Makes 2-3 servings.