Dried shrimp are shrimp that have been sun dried and shrunk to a thumbnail size. They are used in many Asian cuisines, imparting a unique umami taste. A handful of shrimp is generally used for dishes. The flavours of this ingredient are released when allowed to simmer.
Usage in Ethnic Cuisines
In East Asia
In Chinese cuisine, dried shrimp are used quite frequently for their sweet and unique flavour that is very different from fresh shrimp. They have the coveted umami flavour (or so-called “fifth taste”). It is an ingredient in the Cantonese XO sauce. Dried shrimp are also used in Chinese (mostly Cantonese) soups and braised dishes. It is also featured in Cantonese cuisine, particularly in some dim sum dishes such as rolled and rice noodle roll and in zongzi. Despite the literal meaning of the name Chinese name xiā mǐ (“shrimp rice”), it has nothing to do with rice other than the fact that the shrimp are shrunk to a tiny size similar to grains of rice.
Dried shrimp are also used in Korean cuisine, where they are soaked briefly to reconstitute them, and are then stir-fried with seasonings—typically garlic, ginger, spring onion, soy sauce, sugar, and hot peppers—and served as a side dish. It is called “mareunsaeu bokkeum” (hangul:마른새우볶음) in Korean. They are also used in some Korean braised dishes (jorim) and used for making broth.
In Southeast Asia
The Chinese living in Malaysia, especially those of Peranakan descent, developed sambal udang kering, which uses dried shrimp. It can be served as pub grub.
In Indonesia dried shrimp is called ebi, the name was derived from either Chinese Hokkian dialects “hebi” means “shrimp rice” or Japanese word “ebi” means “shrimp” (either fresh or dried). Ebi is important part of Indonesian Chinese cuisine as well as Palembang cuisine, it is used in various Chinese Indonesian stir fried vegetable dishes, such as stir fried white cabbages with ebi. In Palembang, ebi is boiled, grinded and sauted, to make savoury shrimp powder sprinkled upon pempek fried fish cake. Ebi also important ingredient to make shrimp broth and cooked in coconut milk to make Mie Celor. The ebi powder often also sprinkled upon asinan or sometimes rujak.
In Burmese cuisine, dried shrimp is called bazun-chauk and is used widely in cooking, such as salads, soups and condiments. It is primarily used along the coast and coastal ethnic minorities’ cuisines. Toasted whole dry shrimps are used in a wide variety of Burmese salads such as laphet (fermented tea laves), tomato and kaffir lime salads. Shredded dried prawns are used to prepare condiments such as ngapi kyaw and balachaung kyaw. Dried shrimp is also used as stock for Burmese thin soups.
Known as kung haeng (Thai: กุ้งแห้ง) in Thai cuisine, dried shrimp is used extensively with chillies and Thai herbs to produce various types of chili paste and Thai curry paste. Dried shrimp is also used in salads such as in the Northeastern Thai Som Tam (green papaya salad).
In the Philippines, dried shrimp is called “hibi/hibe” (Hokkien: hê-bí) and is used like salt to season dishes as well as in soup bases such as misua. Dried shrimp was introduced to the American south in the 18th century by thriving Filipino fishers in Saint Malo, currently St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana on the shore of Lake Borgne. These communities have been said to have added the dried shrimp to Cajun gumbo.
They are also used in Vietnamese cuisine, where they are called tôm khô, and are used in soups, congee, fried rice, or as a topping on stir-fries (Mì Xào) or savoury snack items. They are also commonly eaten as is for snacks. .
It is used in the cuisine of the Konkan region of India. There are several varieties:
- javla: made from a tiny species of shrimp called karandi, which is typically dried head and shell on and consumed whole,
- sukat:, made from a larger species of shrimp which is typically dried with the head and shell on and consumed after the head and legs are trimmed
- soda: a larger variety which is dried after it is shelled.
It is often used in many African countries like Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria when preparing dishes involving vegetables.Typically cooked in oil with vegetables like spinach, pepper and tomato sauce.
Dried shrimp is commonly found in markets all throughout Mexico and perhaps their best-known use is in the “meatballs” that accompany the traditional Christmas dish romeritos.
The cuisine of Brazil’s northeastern region makes extensive use of dried shrimp, which they call “camarão seco”. It is often reconstituted for use in stews or special hot sauces, such as in Acarajé. It may also be ground into a fine powder for use as a condiment, as on Moqueca. At times it is added directly to a dish as an edible garnish.
In Louisiana, dried shrimp are often added by Cajun cooks to gumbo to add an intense salty flavour. They can also be used as a snack by themselves, and can be commonly found in snack size portions in stores in south Louisiana.
Dried Shrimp Availability, Substitutes, and Recipe
- Dried shrimp can be readily found in Asian markets
- Substitute with dried crayfish or cooked baby shrimp (less pungent flavour)
- Shrimp pastes can be used as a substitute for dried shrimp in most Asian recipes, but the measure will have to be much smaller because they are more concentrated.
Dried Shrimp Recipe
Using a food dehydrator : You can use fresh or frozen. If it’s fresh, be sure to clean it too (if it’s the type with the black vein on their back).
- Boil the shrimp in salty water until they turn a pink colour (cooked).
- Dry them with paper towels.
- Dry them in the dehydrator at 63 °C. It’ll take 4 to 6 hours. When ready, they’ll be hard.
Cooking with Dehydrated Shrimp
You can use your home-prepared shrimp in many recipes. Some ideas include adding them to:
- Pan fried rice or noodles
- Gumbo or others stews
- Soups or chowders
If you were drying your shrimp for storage, you can rehydrate them before using them for recipes that call for regular shrimp. To do this, you will need ½ cup of boiling water for every cup of shrimp. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients and put the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour. Then drain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use the reconstituted shrimp.