Fish sauce is hugely popular in Thai cooking, where its known as ‘nam pla’, and Vietnamese food, where it is called ‘nuoc mam.’ Fish sauce is an essential ingredient in dishes like green papaya salad, larb and numerous stir fries. It usually comes in a solid brown block, but depending on the country of origin the shrimp paste can come in different varieties, sometimes found as a pale pinkish sauce. Prahok is usually eaten with rice in the countryside or poorer regions. “I came home to help with the family business after unrest began in the Middle East,” he explains. It is definitely an acquired taste. 10 things every visitor must experience in Hong Kong. Frying Pan or Wok (You may use a normal frying pan or a non-stick variety) Without using any oil, fry … Copyright © 2020 Hong Kong Tourism Board. The smell may make you pause and wonder why it is so significant to Thai cuisine. Shrimp paste is widely used in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. Learn what’s happening in Chatswood’s world of food (good stuff, no spam). Toss the shrimp around very quickly to cook them, and turn off the stove as soon as the shrimps are cooked. The steam from the rice helps soften the shrimp paste. Made with the finest shrimp, this is one of the highest quality shrimp … Shrimp paste is rich in umami—often referred to as the fifth taste after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. “Tai O Heritage Hotel has been a big draw, mostly for its colonial architectural design and tranquil way to spend a night viewing our beautiful sunsets,” he states. “Our shrimp paste will prevail in the memories of anyone who appreciates traditional Cantonese cuisine.”. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website, to understand your interests and provide personalized content to you as further set out in our Cookie Policy here. Shrimp paste has a very strong pungent smell and taste, but once it is cooked with meat, either steamed or fried like the popular deep fried chicken wings 虾酱鸡, the smell will subside and it’ll … Hong Kong owes its origins to villages like Tai O, and the aromas recall almost-gone eras of its history. “We only use shrimp and salt,” Cheng reveals. Shrimp paste is Tai O’s most famous culinary export, though it is a remarkably simple product. Shrimp paste is made of ground shrimp and salt – that’s it. Packed with saltiness and umami, these two ingredients are used to dial up the delicious and add depth to many dishes. All rights reserved. Stir Shrimp for one (1) minute; Rinse Shrimp again; Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Salt on Shrimp; Stir Shrimp for one (1) minute; Move Shrimp to Colander; Rinse really well under cold running water; The Shrimp will not smell or taste Fishy. Veteran Tai O shrimp paste maker Cheng Kai-keung claims that he can smell when his famed condiment is ready for bottling. This hike transports you to ground zero of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage, heavy with pungent smells. Known for its pungent smell and saltiness, shrimp paste is added to dishes as a natural flavour enhancer. Markets … With its stretches of sandy beach and kilometre-high peaks, it remains largely unspoiled. It is a strong smell, yes, but very fragrant and full of the promise of its distinctive taste and aroma. I think the oil from the cooking got onto the wood, so I used a dishwashing soap/water combo on it. Most recipes call for shrimp paste to be warmed first, either toasted wrapped in foil for 5 to Let’s take a look at how shrimp paste and fish sauce are made, and how they are used. Shrimp paste is widely used in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. Some things are not eaten by themselves. However, if using leftover rice, just warm it up in a microwave. It is an essential ingredient in most Indonesian dishes. For shrimp blocks, we use 100 to seven. I can't use bleach on the cabinets though. It’s the sweet, salty, fishy, funky sauce that fermentation expert Sandor Ellix Katz calls ‘the mother of all condiments.’ Fish sauce is made from small fish like anchovies and covered in salt, then fermented in barrels for months, usually between 6 to 18 months. The stirring of the shrimp paste gives Tai O its familiar whiff of intensely briny aroma that some find delicious while others find nauseating. The flavor is similar to fish sauce, except it is quite a bit stronger and, well…shrimpier. Michael Truly ignores all those rules. The most important aspect of making shrimp paste is exposure to sunlight and air, to transform its texture while eliminating its fishy smell. When I was young, I didn’t like strong flavors, and my mom … However, all of them share a similar pungent smell reminiscent of roasted shrimp. Air Travel Bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is temporarily deferred due to the current precautionary measures. But a very cool thing happens when cooking or combining shrimp paste with fresh herbs and chilis; the smell mellows and the taste becomes a concentrated and fragrant umami hit of the sea. If the smell of the shrimp paste in your dish overpowers the aroma and flavor of all the other ingredients, you used too much. Shrimp paste or shrimp sauce (xiā jiàng, 虾酱) is made from crushed or ground shrimp. Lantau Island is the green and rural counterpoint to the urban expanse of Hong Kong. Nevertheless, in response to a new generation of Thais who find shrimp paste’s strong smell offensive, several paste makers now add fresh coconut water to the mixture. Shrimp paste: Southeast Asia: Made from fermented ground shrimp, sun dried and either cut into fist-sized rectangular blocks or sold in bulk. Tra Chang Thai Shrimp Paste. Grounding it into paste, then sun dried, shaped into blocks, and allowed to ferment again. Shrimp paste is a fermented condiment from the Southeast Asian region. Uses: Shrimp paste is used to add an exotic aroma and flavour to a variety of Oriental dishes including stir-fries, soups and noodle dishes. 2 tablespoons tomato paste ... Cook until the sauce reduces and you can no longer smell any alcohol, 2 to 3 minutes. For example, from my perspective, the smell of shrimp paste wafting through the air makes my stomach clutch in a sudden famish of hunger. Belacan has a pungent smell and taste. It’s probably not going to be at the top of your list of things that make you go ‘yum’ but fermented fish products like shrimp paste and fish sauce are common ingredients in Asian cuisine. ate with grilled fish, beef, chicken and fresh vege, its hot and spice but slidely sour and salty and little bit sweet. Boil everything until the water reduces by half before you add the shrimp. Like fish sauce, it is salted and fermented. But once the ground up mixture is fermented for months, it conveys a depth of flavour that belies the simplicity of its components. I cannot have Kare Kare without bagoong. It is part of our heritage.”. Belacan is a shrimp paste widely used in recipes throughout Southeast Asian countries. Shrimp paste has a very strong smell, and if you aren’t used to it you might find the smell offensive and gross – but if you can get over the smell it’s actually a very tasty ingredient to work with and can add a boost of umami and complex flavours to dishes you use it on.This is a VERY salty ingredient and a little bit goes a very long way. In recent years, he has witnessed a resurgence of life in Tai O, with local tourists keen to soak in the village atmosphere on weekends and holidays. Although belacan is a useful ingredient, you may not have any in the … Bacteria break down the fish, then the resulting liquid is strained off – that’s fish sauce. It is essential in Asian cooking and to us it smells so good. While all shrimp paste has a pungent aroma, the scent of higher grade shrimp paste is generally milder. It brings an intense burst of salty umami flavor to any dish along with a pungent fishy aroma. Tai O is one of Hong Kong’s oldest fishing villages. The months between May and October are the best time for shrimp paste, and we employ several contract workers for a total of six people to take care of our 200 baskets.”. Available in blocks, which need to be sliced thinly and then toasted after which they can be ground up and used as instructed. “For shrimp paste, in the past we used a ratio of 100 parts shrimp to 17 parts salt, but more recently we have reduced the salt to 13 parts as people are more health-conscious nowadays. This will prevent the shrimp paste from splattering inside the microwave and will also keep the smell … Shrimp paste varies in saltiness, texture and smell. This week on Why Would You Eat That? Prahok has a strong and distinct smell, earning the nickname Cambodian Cheese. I won’t lie about the smell – it is really quite pungent, which is why we generally open all our kitchen windows when we use copious amounts of shrimp paste. Ingredients for the rice: Cooked rice 1-1/2 cups. Though his mother reprimanded him for being naughty, I said that it was no problem for the boy to have an opinion. Shrimp Paste (gkabi or kapi): This concentrated product of finely ground fermented shrimps in sea salt has an even more compelling smell than its companion, fish sauce. 3 years ago. You are probably wondering why am I cooking a store bought cooked shrimp paste. Below, veteran Tai O shrimp paste maker Cheng Kai-keung offers insight into one of the signature scents of Hong Kong’s ancient fishing villages, while the hiking routes that follow take you to these villages. The longer the paste is left to dry in the sun, the less intense its odor, but the more refined its taste. He apprenticed in the authentic food processing trade under his father after working as a fisherman in Asia and the Middle East. The resulting blocks are chalky and only slightly moist. The smell of fermented shrimp paste means the most delicious food is not far away. Shrimp paste 1-2 teaspoons (depends on how much you can put up with as far as the smell and how salty it is) Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries. Yet Tai O’s farming and fishing way of life has remained much the same since its first settlers made it home more than three centuries ago. It helped, so we'll see. “Once I began stirring, the boy immediately proclaimed that shrimp paste stinks. The process involves agitation of the paste every 45 minutes and spreading it thinly on wicker trays exposed to direct sunlight from early morning to early afternoon. Many Americans and Europeans that come to my cooking class dislike the smell, but love the taste of it. It will be easier to work with. The salt fermentation gives belacan its signature pungent smell, taste, and umami. try to taste. Like fish sauce, it is salted and fermented. The prawns/shrimp and fermentation process gives is a deep umami taste. The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein. Shrimp paste is not for everyone. Cheng is his family’s fourth generation of shrimp paste makers. It’s available in the Asian foods aisle of your local supermarket, and is sometimes labelled as ‘belachan’ which is the Malaysian name for shrimp paste. “One time, a mother with her young son came by and wanted to watch me work,” Cheng recalls. Shrimp paste may vary in appearance from pale liquid sauces to solid chocolate-coloured blocks. Wow, thank you. Cheng is grateful for the livelihood that Tai O’s shrimp paste industry has provided his family over the generations and proud of what his brand has accomplished. Meander the markets and food stalls, and allow the smells to drift over you. On it’s own, before cooking, shrimp paste can smell anywhere from nutty-and- toasted-seafood-goodness to overpowering and almost rotten. Fermented fish. Find tips on staying healthy and get the latest updates on travel advisories. While it can be a scent that needs some getting used to, the flavour that it adds to homecooked dishes is unmatched. 15 to make Serves 3; sambal belacan is the most popular condiment in malaysia and thailand. Please click OK to be redirected to another section. Belacan is a hardened block of shrimp paste, made from fermenting tiny shrimp mixed with salt. In his spare time, he enjoys walks with old friends and family north to Tung Chung or south along the many trails in Lantau South Country Park. And of course, pad thai just wouldn’t be the same without fish sauce. And if you do experiment with shrimp paste in your cooking, remember that a little bit goes a long way and any leftover paste should be tightly wrapped and stored in an airtight container. Your well-being and safety is our priority. Founded in 1920, Cheng Cheung Hing Shrimp Paste Factory’s proprietor Cheng Kai-keung hails from ancestors who have lived in Tai O for more than 160 years. 'belacan' is made from shrimp give a unique smell and taste. We grew up smelling and having it. There’s no getting around the fact that shrimp paste is pungent, but the flavour is much milder than the smell. The paste has an overpowering, unpleasant smell but this disappears during cooking. The smell is quite strong and can be unappetizing to those who are not used to it, but is cherished by many Asian countries. On a clear day, you can see Macao from Tai O, a traditional village with stilt houses in western Lantau. There are vastly varying qualities, the odor differing accordingly. Yet shrimp paste is part of our dining culture. Shrimp paste produced in Hong Kong and Vietnam is typically a light pinkish grey; while the type used for Burmese, Lao, Cambodian, Thai and Indonesian cooking is darker brown. In the Philippines, they are commonly bright red or pink, due to the use of angkak (red yeast rice) as a colouring agent. For example, it is used in curry pastes and stir fries and is an essential component of the Malaysian classic, fish head curry, like the one available at Ya Malaysia at District Dining. The Thai shrimp paste I’m familiar with smells amazingly good, especially when it’s being sautéed in oil. The process begins with fermenting small shrimp in salt until it is dried. It is critical to many dishes in Southern China and Southeast Asia. If you accept the use of cookies on our website, please indicate your acceptance by clicking the "I accept" button. In foul weather, he joins villagers in a game of mahjong and other rural pastimes. In fair weather, he heads out in his open-air motorboat to fish. Trassi (terasi, or blachan) is an extremely strong smelling shrimp paste. You may manage your cookies settings at any time. The smell disappears during cooking. The shrimp is then ground into a paste, further dried, and shaped into blocks. Place the rice in a bowl with the shrimp paste underneath the rice. Hong Kong is full of evocative smells that imprint themselves on your mind as testament to your time here. The funny thing is, although it is called shrimp paste, it doesn’t really taste like shrimp at all but it does have a slightly fishy flavour. Several brands of fish sauce are readily available in Australia, both from supermarkets like Woolworths and Asian grocers. An essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Very tiny shrimp, like krill, are ground up and mixed with around 15-20% of salt by weight. For example, it is used in curry pastes and stir fries and is an essential component of the Malaysian classic, fish head curry, like the one available at Ya Malaysia at District Dining. Belacan is usually toasted, which further brings out … The most important aspect of making shrimp paste is exposure to sunlight and air, to transform its texture while eliminating its fishy smell. 10 minutes in a hot oven, or crumbled and pan fried in oil. Shrimp paste is made from tiny shrimps that have been salted and then left to ferment. Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice.

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