Dried shrimp are an important source of flavor as well as protein through most of Southeast Asia. In Burma they are often used powdered. The soft powder gives a subtle depth of flavor and also thickens sauces.
Look for largish dried shrimp, more than ½inch long if possible, and the darker-colored (more red than pale pink or beige), the better. Try to get shrimp that are alittle soft rather than completely hard. The easiest way to grind them is in a food processor (traditionally, they are pounded in a mortar).
1cup or more good-quality dried shrimp (see the headnote)
Place the shrimp in a bowl with water to just cover and set aside to soak for 10 minutes (20 minutes if the shrimp are very hard and dry). Drain and pat dry.
Transfer to a food processor and process until reduced to a slightly uneven, fluffy powder, from 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the toughness of the shrimp. Pause and wipe down the sides of the bowl occasionally if necessary. Store in a glass jar.