Salt Fish and Prawn Paste aka Belachan

Some years back on a trip to the UK, I stumbled upon a Portuguese sundry shop… guess what I saw? … rows and rows of salted fish. But silliest thing I ever did was… I did not buy any.

What was interesting was, I found out that salted fish is a part of the Portuguese diet. So my question is… did the Portuguese introduce salt fish to Malaya, via Malacca. On the other hand, salting for preservation is normal and I am speculating that all the seafarers of that era must be eating salted fish.

The next surprise came when I was in Hong Kong, Lantau island… there were rows and rows of belachan.

Comments anyone?

BTW, I still think the best belachan comes from Sarawak.

For our foreign friends – Belachan is made of fermented baby shrimps. Smells bad, but taste good. No different from rotten herrings or funny cheeses.


~ by jaben on June 12, 2007.

10 Responses to “Salt Fish and Prawn Paste aka Belachan”

  1. Salted fish, yummy. But funny, salted fish industries in malaysia are run by chinese.
    Belachan, haven’t tried Sarawak version. Most of mine comes from terengganu, . Add to the list, have u tried chincalok?.. How should i put this, small little shrimps, fermented with onions, water, god-knows-what-super-ingredients. Smells bad to some, but will bring your taste buds to heaven.

    Jaben: BTW, good salt fish is actually fish that is rotting before they salt it…

  2. speaking of foul smell food, anyone care for a bowl of pure plain porridge with a little dash of onions on top + fermented beancurd. aka Chinese cheese. Foohh.. how can i get rid of my tummy is this goes on, huh wilson?

    Jaben: Pssst… I am an avid lover of this Chinese cheese… I like the ones with the speckled chilli in it. Your tummy… your problem, sorry mate…
    Hey, I’ve got a version from Beijing that smells really really bad…

  3. “Jaben: BTW, good salt fish is actually fish that is rotting before they salt it…”
    Never tried it before, what my grandma does is, whack alot of salt.. and let it dry in the sun (secret to a good salted fish, hot sun). To get rid of the flies, put alot of sarawak pepper ( dun ask why sawarak, most of our pepper comes from sarawak). My grandma don’t like the ones sold in shops.. either too salty for them, or too hard.
    Jaben: That is how they do it…

  4. Sarawak pepper is the best: most fragrant and gives the most kick. My mom let me try both the sarawak and the normal variety once and there’s no contest.

    Jaben: I agree with that… I too use Sarawakian pepper. It’s the best… btw, pepper originates from India. It was the British that introduced it to Sarawak.

  5. wilson.. beijing? smells bad? bet they taste damn good. Should ask my aunt to bring me some next time she comes back., or best, try with ur fermented herrings.

    norse.. well said

  6. “Jaben: BTW, good salt fish is actually fish that is rotting before they salt it…”

    There are times whereby not knowing how the food is made is better 😉 and most of the time such food tastes nice yea..

  7. Well… Beeing Portuguese… I must say that salt fish is cooked in Portugal in a variety of ways.
    In the case that u can visit Portugal, i´ll recomend u the “Bacalhau com Natas”…
    BTW, bacalhau it´s what we call salt fish.
    Jaben: Next stop, Portugal here I come. G, what other simple food is found in Portugal. Also, are you aware that there is a Portuguese village in Malacca, Malaysia. I think they speak an old Portuguese dialect known as Cristang or something like that.
    How abut Olive oil? How do you use it in Portugal?

  8. Mmmm….delicious treasures! 😉

    Jaben: You bet…

  9. i’m from malacca…don’t think that the portuguese there speak chistang…maybe the older generations do..but not the new generation…btw..try their’s recommended 🙂

  10. Disn´t know that… always learning… 🙂
    We use olive in a lot of things… not much of a chef myself, but we use it with Codfish (BTW… the package is sent… hope you receive it soon… in 4-5days, at least that´s what tey told me) Salads, and to put e flavour in a lot of dishes…

    Jaben: Jaben Luvs you…

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