Belacan in our A-Z - Cooking Index
Belacan is a Malay variety of shrimp paste.
It is prepared from fresh tiny shrimp of a species known as geragau in Malay. These are mashed into a paste and buried for several months. The fermented shrimp are then dug up, fried and hard-pressed into cakes.
Belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes, or eaten on its own with rice. A common preparation is sambal belacan, made by mixing belacan with chilli peppers, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar and then fried. The aroma from the frying mixture can be unpalatable to Westerners who have not become accustomed to it, but is an absolute delight to the Asian connoisseur.
Shrimp paste varies between different Asian cultures and can vary in smell, texture and saltiness. Therefore, the correct shrimp paste should be chosen for the food being prepared.