Shrimp paste

Fine Shrimp paste

Fish sauce has made its way from Vietnamese cuisine into a variety of home and restaurant dishes, but it’s far from the only fermented sauce that Vietnamese cooks enjoy. Get yourself a jar of fermented shrimp paste, or mắm ruốc/mắm tôm, when you’re ready to take the next step into Southeast Asian umami.

In Việt Nam, particularly in the north, where some of the best shrimp pastes can be found, such as in Định Trung village in Thanh Hóa province. Định Trung village is a historic Vietnamese village located near the Red River, where residents make a living mostly from shrimp sauce production. Shrimp is harvested during the winter ploughing in November till the 12th lunar month. To catch these valuable tiny transparent shrimps, the residents of Định Trung primarily used bamboo and neohouzeaua knitting tool traps. For years, in Định Trung people have insisted on using these tiny shrimp to make shrimp sauce, believing that they are more fragrant and flavourful than other types of freshwater shrimp.

Mắm ruốc/mắm tôm has a soft paste texture, unlike its substantially dehydrated cousins from Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Each Southeast Asian country has its own variation, but the North Vietnamese version is more liquid and fine than the others, despite the fact that the methods are largely the same.

This mắm ruốc/mắm tôm has been described as awful, pungent, and stinky. It’s perhaps the most difficult Asian fermented fish product to accept for Western palates. Shrimp sauce isn’t consumed straight from the jar. A little of it is blended into dishes or dipping sauces, where it gives a fragrance and savouriness that enhances the overall attributes of a dish or ingredients, thus acting as a supporting role. Consider it a covert umami element.

The shrimp sauce is popular among Central and Northern Vietnamese cooks, who use it to enhance the flavours of classics like Bún Bò Huế (Spicy Hue Beef Noodle Soup), Bún Riêu Cua (Crab and Tomato Soup) and Thịt Heo Xào Mắm Ruốc (Stir-fried Pork with Shrimp paste, Lemongrass and Chili).

 

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Same day delivery via Deliveroo.

Same day islandwide delivery.

Bulk Order (min $250) via Catersmith. Order must be placed at least 3 days in advance.