Shrimp Paste

I bought this jar of shrimp paste for a sausage recipe from The Food of Northern Thailand cookbook and didn’t taste the paste at all. Just recently, I brought it in to the Munchies Test Kitchen for an ox tail curry recipe and again, didn’t taste it. But boy, were both dishes deeeelicious. So don’t get scared when you take a whiff of this stuff. As bad as it smells, it redeems itself as a flavor-enhancer. 

So yeah, shrimp paste is a one-hit-wonder kinda ingredient, right? WRONG! It’s actually super easy and versatile to use in everyday cooking. 

Any time you cook with ground beef, pork, or chicken, mix in a small amount of shrimp paste and, as my favorite Italian Food Network Host used to say, BAM! You’ve just turned your dinner from fine, to fan-flippin’-tastic. Shrimp paste plays an important supporting role in lots of dishes. It really brings out the meaty flavor in meat. 

It also makes a shrimp dish, well, more shrimp-y! If you happen to have some lying around, I challenge you to add some in your next Pasta Bolognese. 

T <3 

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BASICS

AKA: kapi • trassi • bagoon

About: Commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines, Shrimp Paste is a fermented condiment made from dried, finely ground shrimp or krill usually mixed with salt, oil, and other aromatics. Just a small amount adds savory flavor to dishes. 

Brand: Golden Hands

Origin: Malabon City, Philippines 

Animal: Shrimp or krill 

Varieties: Shrimp paste can vary in smell and taste between Asian cultures. Some can be wet pastes while others are sold as a sold block. Its colors range from light pink to dark chocolate brown depending on how it was produced. 

History: One of the first accounts of shrimp paste was traced back to 8th Century Southeast Asia. Because it took a lot of time and labor to make, it was often reserved strictly for high-class nobles. 

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HEALTH

Ingredients: shrimp fry • corn oil • vinegar • onion • garlic • iodized salt • sugar • MSG

Calories: 15 grams = 60 calories 

Substitutes: fish sauce 

Note: If you suffer from heartburn, or are on a reduced salt diet, shrimp paste is not recommended.

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SHOP

Store: your nearest Asian Market or the international section of your local grocery store, typically near soy and fish sauce. Markets near Asian villages producing shrimp paste are the best places to get the high quality product. 

Online: Amazon 

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PREPARE

Cook: Do not use shrimp paste in raw applications, like salad dressing or sandwiches. It works best with meaty, cooked flavors; avoid pairing with fresh, bright flavors.

Storage: Because shrimp paste is really salty, it should last unrefrigerated for a while. But it’s best to keep in the fridge for over a year. Just remember to tightly seal the lid to avoid a stinky leakage. 

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EAT

Taste & Texture: rotten smell • meaty • savory • boosts flavor with other ingredients 

Suggested Uses: add to curries • stir-fry • sauces • soups • burger patties • meatloaf • chili • shrimp toast • curry paste • marinades 

Recipes: 

Shrimp Quiche

Spaghetti with Shrimp Paste Tomato Sauce (via Taste Cooking) 

Thai Red Chicken Curry (via The Spruce Eats) 

Shrimp Pad Thai (via Food & Wine) 

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How It’s Made

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CAUTIONARY NOTE

Do not consume if you have a shellfish allergy (duuuhh). 

 

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What do you know about Shrimp Paste? 

Food for Thought

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