Balo balo, known better as burong hipon is a popular Kapampangan fare that is best paired with blanched bitter veggies and leaves like mustasa (mustard) and ampalaya (bitter gourd). With grilled fish, its a good alternative to soy sauce and in this case, the inihaw na hito was perfect.
- 5 cups cooked rice – boil rice with 10 cups of water till cooked; you come up with a soft kind of cooked rice; cool rice thoroughly
- 500 grams very fresh shrimps – alive if possible, the 2-inch long size; do not peel. In Sydney where you do not find shrimps that are alive, I use small, fresh prawns that are peeled and sliced in half – lengthwise. If you want to use fish, I use filleted fish and slice into 1/2-inch cubes or in small strips. In the Philippines, you can use whole small fresh gurami or tilapia, de-scale, debone and cut into finger sized strips. Do not use head of tilapia. Some even use the mud fish for this.
- 250 grams young, fresh bamboo shoots – sliced very thinly and blanched for 5 minutes in hot water and drain well and cool down
- 1/2 cup salt
- Get a well washed, dry, 1 to 2 gallon glass jar.
- Rinse the shrimps/fish with water and drain well. Pat dry to ensure dryness.
- In a large bowl, place shrimps and sprinkle with the salt, and mix thoroughly.
- Using rubber gloves, spread cool rice in a large bowl.
- Mix the bamboo shoots with the shrimps.
- Mix the shrimp/bamboo with rice using gloved hands.
- Put the mixture inside the jar, in layers, packing well each layer. You want to avoid air pockets in the jar.
- Cover the mouth of the jar with a clean sheet of plastic and close with lid.
- Some times it is hard to find glass gallon jars and I use a glass bowl that has a lid.
- Set aside in a cool place and let ferment for three days. In temperate countries, fermentation may take longer. What I do is on the third day, I smell the mixture and see if it’s smelly enough for me.
- The smellier it is, the more sour the sauce becomes. So watch for it. Also, the whole tiny shrimp and fresh fish, ferments faster than peeled prawns or filleted fish.
- If you want to cook the fermented shrimp mixture after three days, it will not be too smelly.
- If you let another 2 days go, keep it in the refrigerator so that it does not ferment too fast.
How to cook the fermented mixture:
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons finely crushed garlic
- 2 cups finely chopped onions
- 250 grams fresh tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 of the mixture
- In a non-reactive (non-stick or ceramic or glass), heavy sauce pan, over low fire, pour in oil and saute garlic and onion till the garlic is a light golden tan and the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or till the tomatoes do not have a raw taste.
- Constantly stir to prevent sticking to bottom of pan.
- Add the mixture and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Taste the mixture and adjust to your liking. It must not be too salty.
- Cool and serve.
- When it is hot, it really smells! When it’s cooled, it does not smell too bad.
- Serve with fried, or grilled fish and steam vegetables and hot rice.