Alamang or shrimp paste (shrimp sauce) is a common ingredient used in Southeast Asian and Southern Chinese cuisine. In the Philippines bagoong alamang (also known as bagoong aramang) is often paired or garnish with something sour such as kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi Linn) known in the Philippines as iba, kalamias, pias or kiling-iba, a souring ingredient.
Made from fermented ground shrimp and packed in bottles or pots, alamang is often used as a sauce for a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. To those unfamiliar with Asian fish-baed sauces, the smell of alamang can be too strong and unappetizing. But the sauce is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Shrimp paste can be found in most meals in southeast Asia. Filipinos, particularly pregnant women, are known to crave for the alamang-kamias combination, a (superstitious) sign that the expected offspring is a baby boy.
Kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi Linn) known in the Philippines as iba, kalamias, pias or kiling-iba, is a plum-like greenish-yellow fruit that is popular as a souring ingredient in vegatable stews and soups.
Kamias is a small tree, growing from 5 to 12 meters in height and the roundish-oblong fruit which grows to about four centimetres long has an acidic or sour taste. The fruit is used to remove clothing stains and for washing the hands. A popular seasoning ingredient, the kamias is also versatile as food since it can be made into sweets, including jam, or pickles.
The fruit is also known in other Asian countries where kamias paste is applied as a hot compress to itches.
In Japan the fruit is turned into a paste to treat mumps, rheumatism, and pimples, and an infusion of the flowers is used for coughs.
The juice of the fruit is also made into a syrup for a cooling drink and there reports of kamias drinks to cure stomach aches and internal haemorrhoids. A conserve of the fruit is used in Java for beriberi, biliousness, and coughs.
Mabuhay ang kamias!