Today, I will write about ingredients that could enhance your culinary adventures, shrimp paste and dried shrimps! These are very common ingredients in southeast asian cuisine. I crave homey food lately, so I am inspired to share some recipes I made when I miss Thai home-style food.
But first off, I want to quickly update on my 30 days challenge. I have been alcohol free and (sort of) caffeine free for 16 days, a little bit more than half way. All in all, I really don’t miss alcohol or caffeine at all. But one surprising thing I learn during this challenge is that white tea can contain more caffeine content that black tea! When starting the challenge, I said I would have green tea, or white tea, but no black tea, to stay away from caffeine. Surprisingly, a few days ago I brewed white tea and got quite jittery after drinking it. (Don’t laugh at me. I still don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am ridiculously sensitive to caffeine lately. Is it from eating cleaner, or what? lol anyone have had this experience, or know what’s going on please share!) With a few minutes search on google (thanks, google!) I found that white tea could contain as much caffeine as black tea. There is a lot of misinformation out there that white tea has little to no caffeine, but this is not always true. It depends on the tea. So, anyway for the sake of challenge’s completeness, I am cutting out all tea.
Okay, back to shrimps! When I want food that tastes like southern Thailand (where I am from), I resort to these two ingredients: shrimp paste and dried shrimp. Abundant with seafood, these two ingredients are commonly used in southeast Asian cuisines. Shrimp paste is basically fermented ground up small shrimps mixed with salt. Dried shrimps are small shrimps that have been sun-dried and shrunk to really small sizes.
Both of them give great ‘umami’ taste (japanese term for the fifth flavor in japanese cuisine, the MSG flavor), giving depth and aroma to a dish. They can be stocked in your pantry for a while. So, they are great alternatives to fresh seafood when you just want the taste and smell of the sea in your food, but do not have time to go to the market. Very nutritious as well– high in iodine, calcium and sodium! For shrimp paste, you will get the benefits you would get from fermented food as well.
I usually use shrimp paste and dried shrimps as an addition flavoring in my stir-fry. Be careful with salt or fish sauce because these two ingredients give natural saltiness. They can be used in many things, from soup, curry (Thai southern style), or even dips to eat with fruits!
Here are a few ways you can use shrimp paste and dried shrimps in cooking:
Pork- Shrimp Paste Stir fry (Moo Pad Kapi)
Thin sliced pork ( loin, butt or any part you like, really)
Coconut milk (can or So Delicious! coconut milk would do)
Kaffir lime leaves
Fish sauce, salt and honey (to taste)
In a pan, brown garlic in coconut oil, then add shrimp paste. Cook for about 2 minutes. Then add pork, and a bit of coconut milk (just enough to make dissolve the shrimp paste into a nice consistency covering the pork) and kaffir lime leaves. Stir until the pork is cook. Add salt for fish sauce. Add a tad bit of honey to complete the flavor.
Alternatively, marinate sliced pork in shrimp paste and coconut milk. This
Note: if you like it spicy, you can add fresh Thai chilis, or even add red or yellow curry paste.
Squash Stir Fry with Dried Shrimp and Shrimp paste
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 italian squash, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
2 bacon strips (or your choice of oil, e.g., coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil)
a handful of dried shrimp
1/2 tbsp of shrimp paste (or to taste, depending on how salty is the shrimp paste)
1 cloves of garlic (optional)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Cut bacon into small pieces, cook in the pan until it yield fat. Add dried shrimp and shrimp paste into the pan with garlic (optional)
Then add all the veggies in the pan. Once they are cooked, add some more oil, and add the eggs. Give it a good stir, add salt and pepper to taste.
Leafy Greens Stir Fry with Dried Shrimp
You can stir fry leafy greens like cabbage, spinach, green mustard, or anything with dried shrimp, really!! It really gives nice umami flavor, and seafoody aroma. It’s also full of minerals right off the sea!
Another ingredients I like to use with stir fry is anchovy. If you can’t find shrimp paste, try anchovy, to get similar benefits! What’s your favorite homey ingredient? A lot of people don’t get enough iodine in their diets. What’s your favorite way to get iodine?
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