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.
Hae ko or petis udang
Hae ko means prawn paste in the Hokkien dialect. It is also called petis udang in Malay and Indonesian. This version of shrimp/prawn paste is used in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In Indonesia it is particularly popular in East Java. This thick black paste has a molasses like consistency instead of the hard brick like appearance of belacan. It also tastes sweeter because of the added sugar. It is used to flavour common local street foods like popiah spring rolls, Asam laksa, chee cheong fan rice rolls and rojak salads, such as rujak cingur and rujak petis.