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More Help with Dried Shrimp

I have only tried to use dried shrimp once and it didn't go very well - maybe someone can help?

I made the Pad Thai recipe from February's Cookbook of the month Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet but the dried shrimp came out rubbery and inedible. The instructions called for me to stirfry them over high heat for 30 seconds towards the end. Which is what I did. I want to attempt it again tonight but I am hesitant to add the shrimp.

What did I do wrong? Any pointers?

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  1. Did you soak the dried shrimp? You are supposed to soak it overnight, or at least for 4+ hours or more.

    1. lol. I knew this was going to be a stupid question. But there is absolutely no reference to soaking them in the recipe. I figured it would at least say "1T dried shrimp, soaked" if that was the case. Whew. Okay. Well I guess they aren't going in tonight's dinner at any rate.

      1. "I knew this was going to be a stupid question."

        When in doubt
        Ask and find out.

        The stupid questions are the ones that are NOT asked. Your question and WHills' response are going to be of help to me also. I just bought dried shrimp today. Neither the package nor the recipe for which I intend to use them explains that they need to be soaked. So thanks to both of you for the question and the answer.

        1. I've used dried shrimp in many Chinese dishes and always pre-soaked, then chopped them finely. I think even soaked they are very chewy. Here's an excellent, blow-by-blow description of how to make pad thai which doesn't use dried shrimp, but fresh which is what I've always used and been served in restaurants:
          http://chezpim.typepad.com/blogs/2007...

          2 Replies
          1. re: cheryl_h

            Actually, the descripton mentioned by cheryl_h on chez pim's blog DOES use dried shrimp though it is optional in the recipe. The blow-by-blow description does not mention soaking and suggests using a stone mortar and pestle on the dried shrimp "until fluffy"

            1. re: wingsofdesire

              Has anyone been able to get this to work? I grinded away and could barely break my dried shrimp, let alone get it "fluffy". I am hesitant to use my food processor because chez pim specifically warns against it:

              "It's important to use the mortar here and not your cuisinart, which will turn to dried shrimp into hard, dried chunks (entirely capable of cracking a tooth) instead of fluffy bits of salty shrimp."

              The package expires next year and I have rehydrated the dried shrimp and tasted to make sure the shrimp are not bad.

          2. You generally need to soak most of the dried products you buy from Asian markets.