- Malay: Belachan
This is considered by many to be the smelliest ingredient on earth. When heated, the smell is compared to fried human feces. So be warned!!!
Belachan is a paste made from grounded sun-dried rotten shrimps.
Widely used in Southeast Asian cuisines, it is an essential ingredient in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian dishes.
Before using, you will have to toast it over a low fire in a dry pan. This will release the pungent odour, but it is this reaction with heat that also activates the umami flavour that will be soaked up by the other ingredients in your dish. You normally do not need more than a tablespoon of belachan, and you have to get over this stage in order to get the best of its flavours!