How to Make Shrimp Paste

Lisa 3 months ago 0 3

Shrimp paste adds deep, umami flavors to dishes, but it must be handled and stored correctly in order to retain its full flavor potential. Follow these do’s and don’ts of shrimp paste usage to protect its aroma in your cooking.

Unopened shrimp paste can last three years in the refrigerator when stored away from moisture and direct sunlight.


Shrimp paste (commonly referred to as belachan or blachenor) is an integral ingredient in many of Asia’s popular dishes, providing an abundance of umami flavor. As this fermented seafood product can be quite intense in its taste and aroma, its use should be carefully monitored by pairing it with more robust flavors to soften its strong tastes and odor.

To prepare shrimp paste, first rinse it under running water to rid itself of excess salt before mixing with more salt, crushing into a paste, and leaving to dry in the sun for several weeks. This produces a reddish-brown paste with different textures ranging from rock hard to soft; its flavor depends upon its climate and production environment – for instance kapi and ngapi from Myanmar and Thailand have much softer textures than their counterparts produced elsewhere – such as Malaysia or Indonesia where terasi has hard edges to it.

When purchasing shrimp paste, look for fresh and fragrant products with vibrant color and texture. Any deviations in hue, such as shifting from pinkish-brown to deep brown or even black hues, indicate spoilage; any sharp and sour smell or mold growth also point towards inferior quality products.

Proper storage of shrimp paste is crucial to its shelf life extension. When possible, purchase it in small amounts and store it in airtight containers; this will minimize air exposure to keep its flavorful and moist qualities for as long as possible. Furthermore, avoid cross-contamination between containers when moving your product – this could compromise its flavor and texture and must be avoided at all costs!


Shrimp paste can be very salty, so its use should be used sparingly to avoid overwhelming other ingredients or distasting eaters. Lime juice, vinegar or lemongrass work well to counterbalance its umami flavor; sweeteners such as palm sugar honey or fruit also help add another dimension of flavor that enhances any dish with shrimp paste.

Making an excellent shrimp paste starts with proper ingredient preparation, especially the shrimp itself. Minced shrimp should be combined with an appropriate amount of salt before being exposed to sunlight for several months and stirred regularly by hand; this allows natural enzymes in the shrimp’s proteins to break down, creating umami flavor – this method distinguishes an artisanal shrimp paste from mass-produced varieties found in grocery stores which tend to be too salty without producing the full spectrum of umami flavor.

Heat the shrimp paste just enough to reduce its aroma and make it easier for spreading or incorporating into dishes. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, Thai basil or mint provide a vibrant contrast against its earthy umami flavors; spicy chilies such as bird’s eye peppers or Korean gochugaru chilies add extra umami flavor while complementing other flavors in dishes. If you follow a vegetarian or seafood-free diet you can still experience its umami-rich flavors by substituting alternative sources like miso sauce, soy sauce or fermented black beans for instance.


Shrimp paste (gkapi) can serve as the foundation for many dishes, from stir-fries and curries to stews and BBQ sauces. For optimal results, fry a small amount of shrimp paste first in order to infuse its oil with flavor; alternatively it can also be roasted in an oven to intensify both aroma and taste.

When purchasing shrimp paste, be sure to purchase only fresh and high quality varieties. Avoid brands that appear slimy, have an unpleasant odor, or have an unappetizing color; also read ingredients lists carefully to ensure there are no added chemicals or additives present.

If you’re new to shrimp paste, begin by starting out slowly with smaller quantities and gradually increasing as your palate adjusts to its taste. Try pairing shrimp paste with robust flavors such as garlic, chili peppers or lime juice to balance its intensity. If the taste becomes overwhelming for you, experiment with various cooking techniques until finding one that meets your preferences and adjust ratios accordingly.

Soaking, toasting or frying adds its own special characteristics to dishes made with shrimp paste. Experiment with these methods until you find what works for you; and don’t be intimidated to experiment with unconventional recipes that include shrimp paste as an ingredient such as pizza toppings! For instance, spread thin layer on pizza dough before topping it off with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil for an unforgettable flavor combination that is sure to impress guests at your gathering! To preserve freshness and ensure long-term flavorful enjoyment of shrimp paste be sure store it refrigerator-in airtight container when possible for best results!


Shrimp paste is an integral ingredient of Asian cuisine, lending depth and umami flavor to dishes. However, for those suffering from shellfish allergies or who simply dislike its smell or taste, shrimp can be off-putting. Thankfully there are alternatives that can make these recipes just as delectable!

Fish sauce is an easy and popular alternative to shrimp paste in any recipe, providing similar umami flavour without its pungent shrimp aroma. Additionally, it makes an ideal option for those avoiding shellfish or following vegan diets.

Tamari, a Japanese variant of soy sauce made without wheat and lower in salt than regular soy sauce, is another delicious and popular option. Crafted using koji (a type of fungus) and moromi fermentation techniques with soybeans, its deep umami flavor creates an exquisite umami experience.

Or you could opt for anchovy paste, available pre-made at many grocery stores and similar to shrimp paste; its only difference being its saltier flavour and more intense fishy aroma.

If you can’t locate anchovy paste or simply want a healthier alternative, bonito flakes could be the perfect replacement. As a staple ingredient of Japanese cuisine, they’re available at most stores that sell miscellaneous dried goods – they provide any dish with an ocean-fresh flavor while replacing fish sauce 1:1 in recipes.

Shiitake mushrooms are an ideal vegetarian-friendly way to add umami flavor to any dish, replacing shrimp paste in its place while creating an almost caramel-esque texture for maximum flavor.


Shrimp paste is one of those magic ingredients that can completely change a dish, adding umami and savory richness that cannot be replicated elsewhere. However, its strong pungent smell may initially put off potential users, however this quickly subsides once cooking is complete. Used widely across Southeast Asian cuisines it can also be found as stir fries, relish or sauce options.

Shrimp paste is composed primarily of ground up fermented shrimp and salt. Available at most Asian markets and imported brands that may include preservatives should always read labels before purchasing jars or blocks of shrimp paste.

Note that not all shrimp paste is created equal, as quality can differ widely depending on its manufacturing process. When looking for high-quality brands with balanced flavors and aromas – look for ones with a subtle fishy scent without overpowering or offending your senses – make your search.

Traditional shrimp paste is made by mixing small shrimp with salt and allowing it to ferment under the sun, with closer proximity to the equator resulting in firmer and harder paste – this explains why Thailand and Malaysia sell dried blocks while Myanmar and Indonesia offer wetter versions.

Store shrimp paste in an airtight container in the fridge with clean utensils to avoid contamination and extend its shelf life. Unopened packets should last up to a year before opening is required for consumption; six months should suffice as consumption timeline. Furthermore, heat sources should be avoided since excessively hot temperatures could hasten its degradation and loss of its original flavor faster.

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