It was a good way to use up a bag of frozen pre-cooked prawns I had in the freezer which I suspected was getting a little old. Equipped with a shallow wok, some sunflower oil and a vague memory of watching mom in the kitchen; I had a go at emulating my favourite childhood dish.
I topped the hot and crisp slices with a tiny dollop of belacan; which mom and dad painstakingly brought all the way from Malaysia specially for me and finished it off with a dot of basil on each.
"Belacan?!" some may be a little lost with the strange word. Correct me if I'm wrong; but I don't think there is an English word for it.
I do admit...belacan stinks! *LOL* Shrimp isn't a very pleasant smelling ingredient and it being cooked fermented after a couple of months doesn't help either! but I assure you, it's delicious! Spicy and robust in flavour; if you are able to look past it's repulsive smell.
Belacan, a Malay variety of shrimp paste, is prepared from fresh tiny shrimp of a species known as geragau in Malay. These are mashed into a paste and buried for several months. The fermented shrimp are then dug up, fried and hard-pressed into cakes.
Belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes, or eaten on its own with rice. A common preparation is sambal belacan, made by mixing belacan with chilli peppers, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar.
The name belacan is possibly derived from Portuguese 'balcao' (also spelled 'balichao').
200g's cooked frozen/fresh prawns
1 large egg
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp tumeric powder
2 tsp sesame seeds
5 tbsp sunflower/peanut oil for deepfrying
Remove when golden and crisp. Drain excess oil and leave to cool on absorbent kitchen towels. Spoon a tiny bit of belacan and some basil pesto on the top to serve. If using belacan is out of the question; a sprinkle of paprika or chilli flakes would probably taste splendid as well!