High Quality Melaka Belacan Tumbuk

A gourmet Singaporean friend, Tiantianchi (his blog here, on makansutra) one day gave me this aromatic belacan labled, Melaka Belacan Tumbuk that totally blew my mind with such complex flavors. Apparently tumbuk means pounded in malay and the texture of this belacan is coarse and not like the commercially sold paste. For those unfamiliar with belacan (pronounced Blachan, also spelled, belachan or blacan), it is a fermented shrimp paste quintessential to S.E. Asian cuisine, giving a dish distinct flavor and richness. It is quite similar to Thai's gapi/kapi or Indonesian terasi/trassi. The color and texture depends on where the shrimp paste comes from but some of them are apparently dyed to a red color. Basically, the tiny shrimp known as geragau caught with a very fine net are salted and sun-dried and pounded to a paste with a machine into a puree and fermented. But as you can see, this belacan tumbuk is simply pounded to a coarse paste with a very coarse texture. Belacan is used for curries, stir fries and the most famous application being used to make a dip -a ubiquitous condiment known as sambal belacan -belacan, salt and red chilies crushed to a coarse paste using mortar and pestle, also known as chengku in Chinese and batu lseong in Malay. The smell of this ingredient is quite offending to some people (like a strong smelling anchovies) and so I guess the biohazard plastic bag really sums it all up. However, when belacan timbuk, sauteed in hot oil, releases its appetizing aroma, the flavor is truly addictive and exquisite.


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