Small shrimp are salted and sundried to create a bright orange, salty-sweet ingredient essential to cuisines in this region. Every Southeast Asian country uses dried shrimp in its own way. In Thailand they are pounded and then used in salads such as the Thai green papaya salad (som tom). In Vietnam they’re used to top small rice cakes with crispy pork and dried shrimp, bánh bèo. And in Malaysia they’re used to enhance the broth of Malaysian Coconut and Lemongrass, curry laksa. Although they possess a heady seafood aroma, these chewy seafood treasures can be addictive, so much so that I snack on them when using them in recipes. Look for bright orange, supple specimens. They are pounded into pastes, thrown raw into salads, and infused into broths.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.