David Thompson recipes and shrimp paste
I have just purchased Thompsons' "Thai Food," and have noticed that he considers shrimp paste to be an essential element of his many "relish" recipes.
My first venture was a traditional relish, and I made it according to direction. I found it overly saline, and lacking of sweetness--Thompson refers in the book to the sweet quality of fresh made pastes in Thailand.
I had been using the Twin Chicken product below, and admittedly, my jar has been open for a long time, probably 2-3 years. Could this explain the flavor? Should I use a different product? A newer jar?
When he says sweet quality I doubt he means sugary sweet.
Shrimp Paste (Kapi)(กะปิ) is Funky ,Salty and can be toasty after it roasted.
Most Thai dips and relishes are not sweet but salty and hot. Unfortunately many Thai restaurants have made people believe that Thai food is very sweet.
Very much so.
I've used Thai Food often (though not often enough) and I tend to find that there's much more balance in the tastes (i.e.: not overly sweet) with more of an emphasis on savoury. The green chicken curry, for example, was sweet and hot, but strongly savoury (tasty? umami?) and quite different from anything else I've had here in Toronto.
Here is a condiment recipe that really shows off that funky something special great for dipping raw Vegetables or sour Fruits like green Mango or Papaya
2 tablespoons shrimp paste toasted
4 cloves garlic
5-6 dried shrimp
5-7 fresh Thai chile peppers
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2-3 tablespoons palm sugar
Grind all together in a mortar or food processor to a slightly course paste.