shrimp paste or sambal belacan recipe : homemade goodness and it's uses in stir fries and scrambles..

Shrimp paste or sambal belacan was made and thoroughly enjoyed last week. I never knew the recipe is so simple and can be easily done at home. You are saved of any preservatives and the flavors are wonderful. We have been on a shrimp paste roll since then.

I had brought some dry shrimps from Goa. Yes those smelly little things that look all spiky and almost inedible. Actually I decided to get some after we tasted the Kismur (a dry stir fry salad) the Goans make. I knew I wont be shy of dry fish anymore after tasting dry shrimp kismur there. And to find the dry shrimp in the markets, we visited the wonderful Panaji fish market and even the Panaji fruits and vegetables market adjacent to it. Oh I found dry shrimp even at a small fish market near Dauna paula beach as well. Imagine how much I love my fish. Now dry fish too.

After trying Goan kismur, I searched for shrimp paste and found a nice recipe that suited my taste and ingredient availability as well. I was actually surprised at how simple this recipe could be. I was also glad I had a baby plant of Calamondins as well, as the recipe demanded those. Two calamondins were ready to pick and I used them in my shrimp paste. Small mercies of life they say.

And yes, I had got some bird chilies from a spice market in Netravalli Goa) as well. You know the way I buy small packets of this and that when I am at such places. This was the time to use them nicely. Fresh bird chilies would have been great, but dry ones are good too.

I figured we need a depth of flavors as far as chilies are concerned in this recipe. You need two types of chilies in the original recipe but I thought of using three. Smarter choices you know :-) I had exactly two chilies ripening in my garden so I got them to this shrimp paste. The regular dry red chilies too add to the capsaicin range of flavors. And you need nothing else. Believe me. The wonderful umami flavors form this shrimp paste is just unbelievable. I have been using it for so many things I cook. Egg scrambles, beans stir fry and even fried rice with mushrooms etc. Soups would wait till we have a little colder weather.

Recipe is adapted from here. Belacan is dry shrimps that last about a year if stored well. Make the sambal of shrimp paste whenever required and store in glass bottles in your refrigerator for about a week.

dry shrimp 30 gm (that was a cupful of it) these were unsalted dry shrimps
dry red chilies 3
fresh red chilies 2
dry bird chilies 4
juice of calamondins 1 tbsp
salt 1 tsp
brown raw sugar 1 tsp


Boil about 500 ml water, take the pan off heat and tip in the dry shrimp into the water for about 30 seconds. Pour it all into a colander immediately and reserve the shrimp that looks cleaner and slightly fatter after this treatment. You can dry roast the shrimp to get a stronger flavor.

Make a coarse paste with the other ingredients in your food processor or mixie jar and keep in a glass container with tight lid. Use as required.

I cooked this green beans stir fry that took just 5 minutes to cook. Ten minutes to chop them and just 5 minutes to cook, this stir fry make a nice meal with some scrambled eggs or grilled chicken. Goes well with noodles or rice main dishes.

To make this stir fry, heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a pan and tip in one heaped tbsp of shrimp paste into it. Fry for about 30 seconds and tip in 2 cups of chopped green beans and salt to taste . Toss well till the beans are barely cooked and still have some crunch. Serve hot or cold with anything you wish. I had it with eggs scramble and a sprouts salad.

I made this stir fry with long beans as well. I used chopped coriander greens and finely chopped garlic  too this time. Garlic and green coriander was added  just after the shrimp paste and fried briefly before adding the chopped long beans (lobiya). These long beans need slightly longer time to cook than green french beans, so cook them as much s you like.

This stir fry also suits well boiled rice or noodles. I loved it with scrambled eggs the most around this time. May be I will experiment more with these recipes later, for now I am just smitten by it's taste. These two beans stir fries are also adapted from the same site.

I love it when people share their home cooked food on their websites. We are exposed to so many food cultures this way.

The liberty to cook food from scratch and still keep it simple. To use fresh ingredients and create utterly great taste. All in our own hands.

What do you think?


  1. Just the recipe I need for the dried shrimp to be saved! Thanks for the timely post, Sangeeta.

    I have to look for this interesting lime tree at the nursery next time - will be good to have it handy. Where did you get yours from? I still have about a cup full of bird-eye chilles that I dried when I grew them a couple of years ago! They are so hot that a few go a long way!

    1. yay Anita. Super easy na.
      Now I'll get one calamondin plant for you whenever I see.

  2. One paste and so many possibilities. You know my question Sangeeta ... does it smell fishy? I would love to make the shrimp paste. Does it last only a week?

    1. Deeba it doesn't smell fishy that way. The shrimp smell is there but very faint, just imagine what your lovely calamondins would impart to it. It has a distinct umami flavor that you would like I am sure. Try it once or may be I'll make you taste it sometime if we meet soon. And it keeps well for 2 weeks I observed. Freeze it if you want to store longer. This recipe makes just about 60 gm of paste anyways.

  3. One paste and so many possibilities. You know my question Sangeeta ... does it smell fishy? I would love to make the shrimp paste. Does it last only a week?


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