Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dried Shrimp

Dried Shrimp

In Chinese, dried shrimp are called xia mi, which literally means shrimp rice, because small shrimp are sun dried resulting in even tinier pieces of dried shrimp. While they are bigger than grains of rice, most dried shrimp are relatively small. There is some variation in size and the bigger the shrimp, the higher the price. The shells are left on because the shrimp are small enough that they don't pose a problem after drying. The shrimp on the left is a bag that I purchased from my local Asian market. The shrimp in the container on the right is my special, super duper, extra large dried shrimp meat that I get from Steven's mom. She gets them imported from Malaysia because you can't find such large dried shrimp here.

Dried shrimp can smell quite fishy but they pack an amazing umami flavor, xian wei. In Chinese cooking, they're used in stir fries, braises, soups, stuffing, and dumpling fillings.

You can find dried shrimp in most Asian markets. Ideally they should be kept refrigerated even if they're unopened. Often times, I find that the storage policies in some markets are a little lax so they can be found in either a refrigerated aisle or at room temperature. Store them in the fridge when you get home just to be safe (but don't worry my parents and grandparents keep it at room temp, I mean it is dried after all, I'm just paranoid). Since the flavor is so concentrated, a little goes a long way. I only use a spoonful or two at a time. Before cooking, soak the shrimp in some hot water. Many people save this water to add back into soups, but I discard it because I think of it as washing the shrimp. Do not leave the shrimp soaking for too long, otherwise all the delicious umami flavor will leech out.

Recently I used these little dried shrimp in Pim's Pad Thai recipe.

I also use them in green bean stir fry and Chinese daikon cake.


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I must be even more paranoid than you b/c I keep mine in the freezer. :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

This is one thing I don't keep in my pantry -- I've used them in my cooking in the past, but must have had a bad experience (maybe I wasn't paranoid enough about storage) and haven't used them for a while.

Kalyn Denny said...

I'll have to look for them at the Asian markets here; I've never tried these! Sound very interesting though.

Anonymous said...

Not going to lie...this kind of makes me gag a little bit. I'm sure they'd be great cooked in a recipe, but seeing them in a bag by themselves isn't appealing to me at all.

Anonymous said...

I have that same bag on the left! i think they are imported from Malaysia as well :)

Sig said...

That is some big shrimp... I use these in my cooking now too, after my mom visited me this time :)

Susan @ SGCC said...

I have seen these in Asian markets and always wondered what the heck they were used for. Thanks for the information. What are they like when they are cooked? Are they like regular shrimp?

Amy said...

That's not a bad thing, I keep plenty of stuff in my freezer.

Sorry to hear that. :(

Hope you like them!

They definitely aren't the prettiest ingredient. :)

I noticed that too, they are from Malaysia.

I love the big ones, I use them so sparingly since they're so precious. :)

Oh they are not like regular shrimp at all when they're cooked. They taste very seafoody and a little chewy. Not succulent and tender like regular shrimp.

Anonymous said...

I buy them from the .99 cent store and well I eat them just with Lemon and I have to tell you these are the best flavorfull little Shrim I have ever eaten.

But are they safe?


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