Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

Balachong is the raunchiest ‘salt and pepper’ I’ve had the pleasure of. Hot, tangy and shrimpily pungent. And it’s the life blood of the Burmese table. If you want it to sing higher, add a little shrimp paste when you wok.


  • 50 g dried shrimp
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp crushed dried red chilli
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tamarind water, or ½ tbsp lemon juice and ½ tbsp water


Briefly process the shrimp until they’re coarsely crushed, or pulverize in a mortar. Slow-fry the shallots in the oil until they start to go brown and crisp, then scoop out excess oil and chuck in the dried chilli, shrimp and garlic and stir-fry until it all picks up some colour. Add the tamarind water or diluted lemon juice, then stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture dries up - but don’t let it burn. It should end up as a dark, damp coarse paste “ peat-like.