Shrimp Key facts Pungent, strong and fishy, a little shrimp paste goes a long way, but it's an essential in all sorts of Thai recipes as well as those from other South East Asian countries. The paste is made by fermenting shrimps then allowing them to dry. The paste is used in curries and sauces.

Shrimp paste: This Thai ingredient is made from fermented, salted shrimps that are pounded into a concentrated paste, but it must be cooked and not used in its raw state. Once opened, you need to store it in the fridge with a tight lid on and place it in a polythene bag, as it has quite a strong aroma. But that said, it helps to give a wonderful authentic flavour to Thai recipes.

Dried shrimps: These have lots of concentrated shrimp flavour, unlike tired and tasteless frozen prawns, which have no value at all. They are available in oriental shops, but have only a short shelf life – about 4 weeks – so buy them in small quantities and keep them refrigerated. They need to be soaked in hot water for 15 minutes before using.

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