Ferdinand Montoya’s secret ingredient: bagoong | Filipino food and drink

Bagoong is a Filipino fermented shrimp paste with a pungent flavour and taste. It provides a lot of umami – in the same way as a fish sauce but more shrimpy and stronger. It smells very funky (as you would expect fermented shrimp to be).There’s one type which is pinkish and fresh and raw, and there’s a brown type which I use more often because it’s very versatile. It has been cooked out very slowly, so the sugars caramelise. It can be eaten straight out of the jar, although it’s not recommended. There’s a classic beer snack in the Philippines with sour green mango that you dip in bagoong. The sour offsets the salty condiment. My favourite dish to use it in is binagoongang baboy. It’s pork that’s been braised with bagoong, tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger.I’ve added it to pasta, it’s similar to adding anchovies. Bagoong, butter, lots of garlic, some chilies … just toss some pasta through. It’s really quick and easy to do – when you can’t be bothered to do anything. For someone who’s not used it before, add a little bit less than you think you need. It’s such a strong flavour and it can overpower a dish.Ferdinand Montoya is head chef and founder of Sarap, 10 Heddon St, London W1B