How to Make Shrimp Paste

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By: Rachae's Nosheri


One quarter of the world’s population enjoys shrimp paste, an intense fermented condiment used to enhance soups, sautes, and mad saucery dishes. Best used with meaty dishes that feature strong cooked flavors; however it works well with many ingredients and combinations.

Vegan and vegetarian eaters looking for umami flavor-rich dishes without seafood have many delicious alternatives available to them.


Shrimp paste (commonly known by its other names belacan or terasi) adds an incredible depth of flavor to any dish, providing it with its distinct umami punch. Made from dried, fermented and salted prawns, its powerful umami punch makes it an integral part of many Southeast Asian recipes such as curries, stir fries, sambal and dips – however its powerful aroma may initially seem intimidating; use sparingly and in moderation; heating briefly in some oil helps mellow its pungent aroma while making it easier to work with.

Careful consideration must also be given when using shrimp paste in dishes, as its flavors could potentially overwhelm those of other ingredients and lead to an unbalanced and unpleasant overall flavor experience. Mixing up flavors and textures will be key in working effectively with this condiment.

Just as important as using fresh, high-quality shrimp paste is making sure it is stored appropriately – to prevent spoilage and maintain flavorful dishes! For optimal storage conditions it should be stored somewhere cool, dark and away from moisture; moisture will quickly cause it to spoil, which will alter its texture and result in undesirable flavor profiles in dishes made using this ingredient.

If you don’t want to buy shrimp paste or are vegan-minded, there are other alternatives that provide similar umami effects. Miso paste makes an excellent replacement that offers similar flavors while Kombu seaweed adds subtle fishy notes into dishes.

Preparing shrimp paste does not require special tools; however, having one can add an exciting and engaging element to the process of creation. Muddlers or pestles are excellent choices, while back of spoon or bowl edges also work for this task.


Shrimp paste is an indispensable component of many Southeast Asian cuisines, adding an intense umami flavor that transforms dishes. Condiments made with this pungent condiment crafted from mashed, salt-fermented shrimp (or sometimes krill) range in color from light brown to deep brown; their pungent aroma and savory taste makes it the ideal addition to soups, curries, stir-fries or even dipping sauces; however it must be used sparingly or else it could overshadow an entire dish!

When shopping for shrimp paste, it is essential that you purchase only high-quality products. Look for brands with solid reputations and positive customer reviews as well as fresh smell. When making your selection, ensure the texture is firm without any chunks or chunks of uncooked shrimp present.

Use of shrimp paste is key when crafting any dish. Too much shrimp paste can quickly overpower a recipe with its powerful flavors; therefore, it is wise to start off slowly by starting with only small amounts and increasing as necessary. In case of marinades, leaving ingredients sit for some time prior to adding shrimp paste can help further balance its flavors for an improved overall experience.

For optimal shrimp paste results, combine it with other complementary ingredients that enhance its flavor and texture – such as herbs and spices as well as chilies. Cilantro and Thai basil provide vibrant contrasts against its earthy, savory taste, while ginger garlic lemongrass chilies can help balance its intensity.

Contrasting textures can also help bring out the best flavors in shrimp paste, such as crisp vegetables or toasted toppings that add crunch. Remembering that shrimp paste is an intense source of umami flavoring, it should only be used in conjunction with other savory ingredients to achieve balance and satisfaction in taste. By following these simple guidelines you’ll continue enjoying its amazing tastes for years!


One of the cornerstones of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine, shrimp paste (gkapi or kabi) is an indispensable umami-rich condiment that should feature in many recipes. Due to its intense flavors, however, large amounts may overpower dishes; therefore it should be used sparingly and balanced out by other ingredients; there are various methods available for doing this such as adding other spices and ingredients that reduce its intensity such as coconut milk, broths or water; also cooking longer may saturate it with flavors and textures that bring new layers.

Preparation of this unique condiment dates back to the eighth century in southern Thailand, when krill (tiny shrimp-like crustaceans) were mixed with salt and left to ferment before being pounded and dried – this process may take weeks, and requires close monitoring so the krill don’t rot or spoil during fermentation. Once dried, this sticky paste resembles almond butter with dense sticky texture – it is typically sold in small plastic tubs or blocks bearing the name of the producer pressed onto their top surface.

North Americans can find shrimp paste at Asian grocery stores. To get an authentic flavor profile, look for brands without preservatives and additives; read and compare labels carefully as different brands may include different ingredients such as sugar and rice flour in addition to fermented shrimp.

Shrimp paste contains an excessively high sodium content, so its consumption should be in moderation. If this causes discomfort for you, there are often alternatives available – for instance fish sauce, Golden Mountain sauce and vegetarian stir-fry sauce can often serve as replacements. In some instances soaking shrimp paste before use can help soften its strong flavors further – however as with all ingredients experiment to find what works for both you and your dish!

Dos and Don’ts

Shrimp paste (also known as bagoong alamang) is an incredible umami ingredient that can elevate dishes to new levels of deliciousness. Adding its salty punch to curries, stir fries, sauces or any dish in need of additional flavor can add an extra boost of saltiness that adds depth and richness of taste. However, proper usage requires knowing what benefits this ingredient can bring before its application in any recipe.

Before using shrimp paste in any recipe, it’s essential to note that too much can result in an unpleasant fishy or rotten taste. Fresh is best as its quality has an immense impact on flavor and aroma of finished product; frozen shrimp paste must first be defrosted prior to including it into your recipe.

Another key tip when working with shrimp paste is avoiding overworking it as this may result in its losing its pungency and creating an off-putting rancid smell. Furthermore, using high-quality shrimp paste will ensure delicious results and ensure desired aroma.

When it comes to storing shrimp paste, an airtight container is recommended in order to avoid spoilage and extend its shelf life. Furthermore, remember that shrimp paste can be quite strong-flavored so only use small amounts at any one time.

At home, shrimp paste should be kept cool and dry since heat and humidity can adversely impact its flavor. An opaque container will protect it from light and heat exposure.

Finally, when it comes to shrimp paste transfer and storage, using a clean spoon can help limit bacteria spread. Furthermore, keeping it chilled helps preserve flavor and texture for best results.

Shrimp paste is an integral component of Southeast Asian cuisine and can be found at most grocery stores and markets. It often sits alongside fish sauce, chili peppers, and dried chiles; its pungent aroma and bold taste add new depths of flavor that elevate dishes beyond expectation and make this ingredient essential in Asian cooking.

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Rachae's Nosheri

Rachael’s Nosheri is a Jewish deli located in 120 S. 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. We serve breakfast and lunch comfort foods and deli sandwiches. Our extensive menu and reasonable prices make us a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Our food is pretty good if you’re in the mood for deli sandwiches, and we’re known for our American, Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch Specials, and Sandwiches.

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