Because shrimps are pricey and highly perishable, they are preserved in many different ways. That way, they can be stored for weeks or even months. In Southeast Asia, two of the most common ways of preserving shrimps is by drying or turning them into shrimp paste. Both are highly salted.
Salted dried shrimps either come peeled or unpeeled. They are soaked in water to rehydrate before they are cooked.
Shrimp paste comes in many varieties. They can be wet or dry. Some wet shrimp pastes are more watery than others. Dried shrimp paste, called belacan in Malaysia and Indonesia, is crumbled, chopped or mashed prior to cooking.
Belacan fried rice is one of the simplest fried rice recipes that you can find. How good it is (how complex the flavors are) depends largely on the quality of the shrimp paste used.
As with any fried rice dish, it is best to use day-old rice which has dried out a bit. If the rice is still wet, the fried rice will turn out soggy no matter how long you stir fry it. Long-grain rice is ideal for fried rice.
The yard-long beans can be substituted with celery or French bean – in fact; any crunchy, non-leafy vegetable will do just as well.
The addition of egg is entirely optional.
Extremely high heat is a must when stir frying.
- ½ cup dried shrimps
- 4 tablespoons
- cooking oil
- ½ cup diced yard-long beans
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp paste or belacan
- 4 cups day-old rice
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Salt to taste
- Place the dried shrimps in a shallow bowl. Pour in just enough water to cover. Leave to soak for 20 to 30 minutes or until fully rehydrated. Drain and set aside.
- In a wok or frying pan, heat one tablespoonful of cooking oil. Stir-fry the diced beans until for a minute or two or just until a bit underdone. Scoop out and set aside.
- Crumble or chop the belacan as finely as you can.
- Pour the remaining cooking oil into the pan. Fry the dried shrimps and the belacan together. When the dried shrimps turn crispy and slightly brown, and the belacan smells fragrant, add the rice and partially cooked string beans. Stir fry for about two minutes or until the rice is heated through.
Push the fried rice to the sides of the pan to make a well at the center. Pour in the beaten egg. Stir the egg in a circular motion until set at the bottom but still very wet on top.
Incorporate the egg into the rice by stirring in a spiral with the circle getting wider until the egg has been mixed into the rice.
Turn off the heat. Taste the fried rice. Add salt, if needed. Stir a few more times before serving.
Note: This fried rice is delicious served with some diced bird’s eye chilies in soy sauce and sliced raw cucumbers.