You must be wondering what in the world has possessed me to put a photo
of this ugly looking thing on my blog. (And, no, it’s not what you think!) Well, you see, I’ve tried to
dress it up. Don’t you notice it’s in a perfectly formed quenelle, and
on my favorite Bernardaud Sardine plate besides? Didn’t help much
though, did it? Oh well, no matter how I dress it up, it’s just ugly
old Kapi, or Thai shrimp paste.
And you know what? It is ugly, and it tastes even worse. Well, when
eaten out of hand, that is. Yet it is an integral ingredient in so
many Thai dishes. It gives a depth of flavor in curry pastes, and
plays a starring role in a lot of Namprik relishes. One of my favorite
Thai dishes featuring Kapi is Khao Kluk Kapi. The recipe
for this is at the end of the post.
I’m not sure if I should tell you how it’s made. Perhaps it is, as
with sausages, better to just enjoy the result? But then again, this
series is about ingredients, so I guess I would have to tell all.
Shrimp paste is made from a type of tiny black-eyed shrimps called
Keuy. The Keuy shrimps are macerated with a huge amount of salt
overnight, then let dry in the sun. The process is repeated for many
days until the shrimps disintegrate and dry out completely. The
resulting dark paste is the Kapi shrimp paste. It can be kept
Different brands of Thai shrimp paste vary in color from light to dark
brown, often with a slight purple hue. The consistency is usually firm
(see the quenelle above). It has a very pungent smell that might need
a little getting used to.
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