Burmese Dried Shrimp Balachaung

, from Issue #21.
Photography by Vanessa Wu.
Burmese Dried Shrimp Balachaung

Use this traditional, spicy garnish to sprinkle on Asian soups, curries, noodle and rice dishes. A little goes a long way, and it will keep in an airtight jar for a year.


250 grams dried shrimp
20 grams dried red bird's eye chillies
1/2 cup rice vinegar
300 ml peanut oil
125 ml sesame oil
20 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly, or 3 tablespoons dried sliced garlic
185 grams thinly sliced shallot or onions or 250 grams crisp fried shallots
2 teaspoons sea salt
2cm square of ngapi (dried shrimp paste)


Put the dried shrimp into the food processor and process until they 'floss'. Remove and set to one side.

Add the chillies and vinegar to the processor and pulse until quite fine.

If you are using fresh garlic and shallots, heat the peanut and sesame oils in a large frying pan and fry them seperately until they are golden and crisp. Remove each batch from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off 1 cup of the oil, reheat and fry the shrimp floss for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. (If you are using pre-fried garlic and shallots you can skip this step and use 200 ml of peanut oil and 100 ml of sesame oil to fry the shrimp floss).

Add the chilli vinegar, the salt and the ngapi paste. Fry until crisp, stirring constantly. Allow to cool before mixing in the fried garlic and shallots. The fried garlic and shallots will absorb any excess oil. Spoon into airtight jars and store in the pantry for up to 1 year. Makes 550 grams or enough to fill 2 x 350 ml jars

All these ingredients can be purchased from Asian supermarkets.