This Malaysian chilli paste is a spicy accompaniment to any curry, stir-fry or noodle dish. Dried shrimp paste, cherry tomatoes and bird’s-eye chillies are pounded in a mortar and pestle to create the rich, more-ish flavour.

⅓ cup





Skill level

Average: 2.3 (8 votes)


  • 5 cm-piece dried shrimp paste (belachan) (see Note), cut into small pieces 
  • 20 red bird’s-eye chillies, trimmed 
  • 20 cherry tomatoes

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place dried shrimp paste in a heavy-based frying pan over low heat and cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes or until it turns into a brownish, dry granular mixture.

Using a mortar and pestle, gently pound chillies and toasted dried shrimp until a paste and season with salt. Add tomatoes and pound until crushed. Serve as an accompaniment with the other dishes.



Dried shrimp paste is available from selected supermarkets and Asian food shops.


As seen in Feast magazine, Feb 2012, Issue 6. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.

Photography by Anson Smart.