Shrimp pastes may vary in appearance from pale liquid sauces to solid chocolate-colored blocks. Shrimp paste produced in Hong Kong and Vietnam is typically a light pinkish gray while the type used for Burmese, Lao, Cambodian, Thai and Indonesian cooking is darker brown. While all shrimp paste has a pungent aroma, that of higher grades is generally milder. Markets near villages producing shrimp paste are the best places to obtain the highest quality product. Shrimp paste varies between different Asian cultures and can vary in smell, texture and saltiness.
This Chinese shrimp paste is popular in southeastern China. This shrimp paste is lighter in color than many southeast Asian varieties and is often used in pork, seafood and vegetable stir fry dishes. The shrimp paste industry has historically been important in the Hong Kong region.