Spicy Dried Prawns – Hae Bee Hiam (蝦米香)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

PhotobucketYesterday, my neighbour gave me some groceries 'cause she was going away for a couple of weeks. It was mostly fruits and vegetables, stuff that she couldn't keep for much longer. There was a whole pile of shallots and garlic which were either perishing or flourishing, depending on how you looked at it. I didn't want to waste the budding bulbs, so some emergency action was needed to terminate the 'growing ambitions'. I sliced off the freshly sprouted roots and a few tiny shoots, and stripped off the peel. Ground up the lot with dried chillies and dried prawns, and made Spicy Dried Prawns – Hae Bee Hiam in local parlance – the first time in many years. Mum used to make it quite often back when she rendered lard every fortnight or so. The crispy lardons from cooking pork fat were finely chopped, then fried with lots of finely pounded dried chillies, shallots, garlic and dried shrimps. That was really old world food at its best, I tell you. We had another way for eating freshly fried lardons, by the way. Sprinkled with a bit of sugar and dipped in light soya sauce. I kid you not.

It seemed like a lot of work when I made Hae Bee Hiam yesterday, despite using a mini chopper instead of a mortar and pestle. So I really savoured my homemade Spicy Dried Prawns even though it didn't have any lardons. And it was a bit too finely chopped and lacked a bit of texture. Next time, I will leave some small dried prawns whole. Might even render some pork fat for a just-like-Mum-made-it version!

I gave some Spicy Dried Prawns to my brother, the one who drives from Tampines to Jurong to get his Hae Bee Hiam fix at I-don't- know-which hawker centre. He was over the moon, to put it mildly. And offered to exchange more Hae Bee Hiam with his sprouting garlic and shallots. Gosh, what's with all these people growing plants in the fridge? Maybe I should give them a few plant pots?

Check these out:
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Prawns with
Salted Egg Yolks
Prawns with
Red Fermented
Prawn Tom
Yum Soup
Kung Pao Prawns

(For 8 persons)

25 g dried chillies
100 g dried prawns
50 g shallots
70 g garlic
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp sugar
salt to taste, about 1 tsp

Wash dried chillies and cut into 1-inch long pieces. Soak in water till soft (1 hour). Drain and squeeze dry. Wash and soak dried prawns in water for 15-20 minutes till soft. Drain and set aside the water. Peel and wash shallots and garlic. Pound or finely mince all four ingredients, leaving some small dried prawns whole for texture.

Heat oil in a wok till smoking. Add shallots and stir-fry for a few minutes over high heat. Do likewise with garlic, then dried chillies and dried prawns. Fry the mixture for 15-20 minutes, stirring all the time and adding water from soaking dried prawns bit by bit. Mixture is ready when it turns dark brown. Add sugar and mix well. Taste and add salt to taste. Enjoy with porridge, rice or as a sandwich filling.


Celeste Charlotte Yap said...

I love them stuffed in tiny pastry skin, then deepfried, for CNY.

Used to know an auntie who made them but alas, now... :-(

This might be totally unrelated but I reckon u dont include enough of hawker fare.

KT said...

Hi Celeste Charlotte Yap, 1,000 apologies for not clearing your comment earlier. I turned on comment moderation and expected to see comments submitted in my email. I didn't know they would go to 'Comment Moderation' in blogger. Terribly sorry! I will try to clear comments at least once a day. Thanks for taking time to give me feedback.

I started my blog to talk about my mother's recipes (80%) and cats (20%). But I got distracted by other recipes, a bank's stupid advertisement, and most readers don't seem interested in cat stories!

I'll try to do some recipes for hawker fare. Can't compete with ieatishootipost on hawker food reviews!

Tinoq Russell Goh said...

your posting brings back a lot of good happy memories , i m a kampung boy from 6-L alexander lane, pasir panjang its just beside the starlite cinema. anyway as the youngest of the eight kid and being gay i was always the one helping out my mom pounding the dried chillies and other ingredients for hae bee hiam. but our version has got two more extra ingredients and i insist that my mom bring the dried chillies to a boill then sock it until it cools down before i start pounding it a lot easier this way cause the chillies are softer. the other two ingredients are lemon grass and tossed shrimp paste and it was pounded into powder before adding to the spices. and yes we use only lard lol cause no lard no hae bee hiam. anyway i just got back from my own food festival cum birthday celebration in FOOD HEAVEN ipoh!!! omg i love ipoh for its food, people and water i highly recommend that you must visit ipoh once in your life or you will regret it hahahahahahah. thank you from dragon boy

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