Are these shrimp ingredients created equal?
November 23, 2017 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Planning to make Thai curry paste this weekend, but my partner came home with shrimp sauce instead of shrimp paste. Is it an acceptable substitute?

Earlier this week partner and I took a Thai curry cooking class. We used "shrimp paste in bean oil" as one of the ingredients. It was bright red with a chunky texture. Partner came back from shopping today with Lee Kum Kee brand shrimp sauce. It is a brownish pink colour and looks to have a very fine consistency. Will this shrimp sauce have the right kind of flavour for our Thai curry paste, or is it better to try to find the proper ingredient? If it's the wrong kind of shrimp thing, what else can we use the shrimp sauce for?
posted by Rora to Food & Drink (5 answers total)
The important thing is that fermented shrimpiness, looks like that stuff is fermented too so I imagine it should have the right flavour profile. I think shrimp sauce and paste are more or less synonymous, or they differ only in texture / relative moisture, but the extra liquid will just fry out when you're making your curry. Brownish-pink is definitely the right colour.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 7:08 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here in the UK, a paste is a much more concentrated version of the product and is used differently - for example, Patak's jalfrezi sauce vs jalfrezi paste. I always use the paste version when making any sort of curry but I would go ahead and use the sauce version now then try the recipe again with the paste - I think it'll be a lot better.
posted by humph at 3:25 AM on November 24, 2017

From a customer review at the Amazon link:

Unlike every other shrimp paste I've tried, Lee Kum Kee isn't a hard, caked powder. I opened the jar to find a thick pudding consistency, with all the robust shrimp flavor you get from the usual versions of shrimp paste. Because it's wet, you definitely need to refrigerate it once opened. (Bacteria love a wet environment.) But I'm thrilled that I no longer have to use a hammer to break off pieces from a block of shrimp paste. Now, I can spoon out a precise measurement that I don't have to dissolve in boiling water before I can cook with it.

And from the customer questions:

Q: Is this the same as shrimp paste?

A: This product is very thick and could be considered a paste.
Carol Kasten | 2 years ago

A: Hello value customer,
Thank you for your inquiry, yes you are correct it is the same as shrimp paste. Thank you.
Kona & More

For what it's worth Wikipedia uses the terms shrimp paste and shrimp sauce interchangeably, too, and notes a wide range of textures "from pale liquid sauces to solid chocolate-colored blocks." I'd use it as the right ingredient, maybe while taking down the liquid amount the recipe calls for just a notch?
posted by mediareport at 4:36 AM on November 24, 2017

Hmm they taste a bit different to me but I think it could be an okay substitute. I might add a bit more garlic since I believe the Thai version has that ground in with the oil.

As for the Lee Kum Kee sauce, you can totally use it in Chinese stir frys. I like it with fried squid and chives. Another popular use is with green vegetables-e.g this.
posted by inevitability at 5:52 AM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

It will probably taste a little different because the LKK one is tailored for Malaysian/Singaporean cooking (it looks like a chinese-my/sg version of belacan), but in a pinch it might work as replacement. it does taste a little simpler though, because it's just fermented shrimp in salt. i believe the thai version has more complex flavours with the addition of garlic etc in it already. but apparently it's a southern thai thing which is culturally related to the malay peninsula native cultures, so it shouldn't be too big of a flavour jump. anyway, add some fish sauce or toast/saute small dried anchovies as well if you're using the LKK one
posted by cendawanita at 8:44 AM on November 26, 2017

« Older Budding fiction writer lacks confidence (no MFA)...   |   What experiment can I do to show that the Earth is... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.