Yeo Minced Prawns in Spices Review
I fell in love with this umami-rich shrimp paste from Singapore after first purchasing at a little Asian grocery store in Fredericton, New Brunswick almost 40 years ago. It is produced by Yeo Hiap Seung Ltd., and is made with Shrimp, Chili, Onions and Peanuts as the main ingredients. The shrimp are clearly fermented slightly during the manufacturing process, and the result is quite similar to a Filipino Bagoóng Alamáng, or even a Sambal Ikan Bilis. It is sold mainly as a cookery ingredient, especially for soups and noodle dishes, but I find that it shines best as a cold condiment.
The Appearance, Texture and Taste
The paste, as you can see, has a lovely reddish-orange color and is quite oily. Refined Palm oil is used and, while this is liquid at room temperature, it solidifies when you keep the paste in the fridge.
The texture of the product when the can is first opened is like a slightly granular sauce, thick with bits of peanuts, shrimp, and onion about 2 or 3 millimeters in greatest dimension. After being chilled, the consistency is much firmer, rather like a meat pate, or the like.
The taste of the product, I have to say, is amazing. The dominant flavor is the slightly pungent, almost fermented taste of dried shrimp, and the chili used just adds a nice background heat without being overpowering. It is quite similar to a Sambal Belacan without Lime juice, or an Indonesian Terasi without the very strong fermented taste that Terasi often has.
Using Yeo Minced Prawns in Spices
Yeo’s own description of the product reads as follows:
“A popular ingredient which will add aroma and spice to all dishes. This dominant flavor is the slightly pungent, almost fermented taste of dried shrimp, and the chili used just adds a nice background heat without being overpowering. It is great as a soup base for noodles or for a stir fry with vegetables, seafood, or pork.”
Well, much as I love this product, I have to quibble with the claim that is “great as a soup base for noodles or for a stir fry with vegetables”. It is unfortunate, but the paste doesn’t work well in hot dishes as the best highlights of the cold product are lost when heated to any significant degree. I have used it as a base for sauces and stir-fried dishes, and also while cooking hot noodles, but I have always been a little disappointed. Accordingly, I mostly just use it cold.
My absolute favorite, and very unorthodox, use for this product is as a condiment in plain old ham sandwiches made with a little mayonnaise, and the el cheapo, pressed ham you get from the supermarket. The spicy warmth and slightly pungent ‘shrimpiness’ lends an exotic touch to an otherwise everyday snack.
In the above picture, I attempted to create a slightly less mundane, and more keto-friendly version of my usual ham sandwich using Nori to make a little appetizer wrap. It isn’t really all that photogenic, perhaps, but it did taste very nice.
Yeo Minced Prawns in Spices is a product I very much enjoy for its taste as a cold condiment. It does not heat well, unfortunately, which limits its versatility, but as a sandwich spread, or as a cold accompaniment to rice, or perhaps in a noodle salad, it works very nicely indeed.
Good stuff to amplify umami