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  • Writer's pictureJohn MT

Tastes Better with Sea Salt: “Bagoong, Daing, and Tinapa”

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

With the Philippines being an archipelago made of 7000+ islands, it’s not surprising that the country has a thriving “processed fish” industry. And among the most popular products enjoyed by locals and tourists alike are “bagoong, daing, and tinapa.”

What do “bagoong” (fish or shrimp paste), “daing” (dried fish), and “tinapa” (smoked fish) have in common? All of these products involve salt as the main ingredient!

When making “bagoong,” the fish or shrimp is fermented with salt for at least two weeks. Meanwhile, “daing” is made by splitting the fish, gutting it, then salting liberally before leaving it to dry under the sun. Finally, there’s “tinapa,” which is usually made from bangus (milkfish) or galunggong (blackfin scad). The fish is washed, then soaked in brine (a salt and water solution) for a few hours, before getting air-dried and smoked.

As you can see, whether the fish is fermented, dried, or smoked -- the process involves the use of salt -- both as preservation as well a preparation technique. But the process doesn’t involve just any kind of salt. Recently, it has been observed that more and more processed fish manufacturers are using local sea salt in making their products.

Sea salt, as the term implies, is a salt derived from seawater that has undergone the natural process of solar evaporation. In the Philippines, sea salt is produced mainly in the provinces of Pangasinan and Occidental Mindoro, where there are salt farmers that harvest salt, actively producing and distributing it across the country.

Why do processed fish manufacturers prefer sea salt? Here are some good reasons:

1. Sea salt dissolves faster.

Local sea salt is sometimes referred to as “soft salt” because it dissolves faster compared to industrial, imported salt. When making “daing” for example, sea salt dissolves faster and covers the fish entirely, in a shorter amount of time. This is important because if the fish is not covered properly, it could rot or go to waste.

Similarly, in cooking and food preparation, sea salt is preferred since it dissolves quickly. When using imported salt, which doesn’t dissolve fast -- you may end up adding too much because it doesn’t dissolve quickly and you cannot taste it right away.

2. Sea salt has better texture and flavor.

Imported salt usually has a fine, powdery texture. In contrast, sea salt comes in a variety of textures, including coarse, granular, and “flaky” variants. Sea salt also has a more distinctive flavor, making it popular among chefs, restaurateurs, and food enthusiasts.

3. Sea salt is more “natural.”

Since sea salt undergoes solar evaporation (a natural process), it results in a product that is more “natural,” with fewer additives. It also contains traces of minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium -- thus making it the “healthier” choice.

4. Using sea salt will boost the local salt industry.

Fish processing is a major industry in the Philippines, and wider use of sea salt is bound to benefit the local salt industry as well. Whether you are a processed fish manufacturer, a chef, or a home cook -- switching to sea salt holds greater advantages for everyone, including our local salt farmers, their families, and of course, the country’s economy.

Some Final Thoughts

The next time you enjoy a meal with “bagoong, daing, or tinapa,” think about how it was made, and how it was processed using sea salt. As you savor and enjoy the unique texture and flavor, you might end up saying, “Indeed, it tastes better with sea salt!”

Ready to use Philippine sea salt for your seafood cooking? Try MinSal Sea Salt, your most reliable local salt supplier.

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