Asian Shrimp Paste etc.
I bought a can of shrimp paste at the oriental market so I can make a recipe for Thai fried rice. There isn't any warning on the can to refrigerate after opening so I asked the cashier. He couldn't find anything and said there isn't much refrigeration "back home" so he didn't think I needed to refrigerate it. Does anyone know for sure? And, once open, how long will it last?
I have gone thru quite a few years' worth of Cooking Light magazine plus I have some recipes I found on the internet. What I have cooked so far has come out very good. The oriental market is an hour away so I stocked up on a lot of ingredients including several kinds of noodles. I bought a small bunch of lemongrass but found it was very woody. What's the secret? Did I not peel back enough leaves? Should I have cut more of the stem base off? Minced finer? Should I buy the frozen chopped lemongrass next time? I'm still trying to figure out the differences between all the chili sauces. And now that I've read the link to Chez Pim's pad thai instructions, perhaps I should have bought dried shrimp. I keep using the bottled ginger paste instead of fresh ginger root. Am I missing out on better flavor because of my laziness?
Yes...try to use fresh ingredients(ginger) where possible.
Lemongrass is best bought whole stalk. You should chop off an inch or two of the woody base and peel off the sturdy outer leaves. Discard.
Shrimp paste does not need to be refrigerated though, once opened, you may wish to seal the container inside a ziploc or another container to cut down on odor leakage. Shrimp paste lasts quite awhile...over time as it darkens, it degrades.
Most shrimp paste (NOT ALL) has enough salt for it to last quite a while without refrigeration, but refrigeration won't hurt it either.
Fresh ginger is much better than anything canned or bottled, and it isn't much effort to make your own ginger paste in small quantities.
My mom used to transfer it into a small jar that sealed WELL, and put it in the fridge, but as hannaone pointed out, as salty as shrimp paste is, that's probably not necessary. The important thing to remember is to seal it, or your entire house will smell like a fishing pier.
Lemongrass woodiness: I was taught to bend the lemongrass and, where it bends, cut...after peeling down a bit to get rid of the tougher outer leaves, this elimates the woody stem without cutting too much (not dissimilar to asparagus)...I suggest you mince it, the pulverize it in a food processor or mortar and pestle...This will break down the fibers enough to not get stuck in yer diner's throat.
I agree with all other posters about ginger paste...i dont' know what "exotic" (i.e. additives) they add to those jars of paste, but i don't like em...You can make yer own and store it in the fridge with a light coating of vegetable oil on top and it will stay good for a while.