All About Shrimp Paste
ALL ABOUT SHRIMP PASTE
Shrimp paste or belacan as it is commonly known in Singapore is rich in protein and vitamins and essential ingredient for making chilli pastes and curry pastes in Asian cooking. It must be cooked before consuming and it adds a delicious aroma to cooked food. The lighter type of shrimp paste is used mainly for making dipping sauces or as marinades and the darker ones for making curry paste.
TYPES OF SHRIMP PASTE
• The Malaysian shrimp paste varies from purplish grey to pinkish to dark grey almost brown. Some shrimp paste are soft and like a paste, some dry and hard and it all depends on how long the shrimp paste has been fermented and dried in the sun.
• The Thai shrimp paste comes with a layer of wax to seal the freshness and it must be removed. The Burmese shrimp paste is almost like the Thai shrimp paste but a little softer.
• Chinese shrimp paste is usually more pinkish grey in color and moist and sometimes almost of a sauce consistency.
• The Indonesian shrimp paste also known as terasi is sold in dark blocks sometimes sold ground. The color ranges from soft purple-reddish hue to darkish brown.
• Vegan Belacan – these are sold in shops selling vegetarian ingredients. This belacan is made of fermented soybeans and salt.
WHAT IT IS CALLED IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
Vietnam Mam Ruoc
Burma Pazun Ngapi
Hong Kong Hom Ha
HOW TO TOAST SHRIMP PASTE
•Cut thin slices of the shrimp paste and wrap in 2 layers of aluminum foil into a neat package and hold on a low gas flame with tongs, flipping the package every 1 minutes or so and toast for about 4-5 minutes.
• Alternatively place in a hot oven for 15 minutes. You can also wrap the shrimp paste in banana leaf and then wrap in foil for added flavor.
• You can also grill it or toast it in a table top toasted. After toasting shrimp paste, it will look a bit grayish or whitish.
• If toasting in the microwave oven, place slice of shrimp paste in between 2 paper towels and microwave for 3 minutes on HIGH. Do not cover with cling wrap.
• Shrimp paste can also be pan fried.
HOW TO STORE SHRIMP PASTE
Once opened shrimp paste must be kept refrigerated if storing for more than 3 months. As you keep it longer in the fridge, it tends to get saltier and therefore one must use less when the shrimp paste has been kept for a long time. It is best to wrap shrimp paste in foil and then place in airtight container. When a recipe says “1 tablespoon of shrimp paste” it equals to 25 g.
HOW TO GET RID OF SHRIMP PASTE SMELL FROM THE HOUSE AND HANDS
After cooking with shrimp paste, bring some water to boil with lemon grass, ginger and cinnamon, lemon peel etc for 10 minutes and the whole house will have a refreshing smell. If using microwave oven to toast the shrimp paste, place a small bowl of water with half a lemon or orange peels and microwave for 10 minutes. If hands have strong smell of shrimp paste, wash hands with milk or scrub with lemon peel.