Toasted Belacan (Dried Shrimp Paste) Recipe

Belacan (Dried Shrimp Paste)

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 2 mins
Cook: 7 mins
Total: 9 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 8 ounces
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
14 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 14
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 1096mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 20mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of the condiments that give Malaysian cuisine its distinctive taste is belacan (pronounced buh-LAH-chan). It's a paste made from dried and fermented shrimp and krill, and it comes in blocks. This makes it quite different from the softer shrimp paste used in Thai and other Southeast Asian dishes.

Before you add belachan to a dish, you'll want to toast it to release its flavors and aroma. There are two simple ways to do this: either roasting in the oven, or pan-frying. We'll show you both methods here.


  • 8 ounces dried shrimp paste (belacan), or amount needed

Steps to Make It

Method 1 - Oven Roasting

  1. Cut belacan into thin slices. Preheat oven to 375 F.

    Cut belacan into thin slices

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Place the belacan slices slightly apart on a roasting pan. Roast for about 4 to 7 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Let it cool before use.

    Note that roasting belacan this way will make your kitchen smoky and smell strongly for some time. Leaving the windows and doors open will help to clear the odors.

    Belacan (Dried Shrimp Paste) on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Method 2 - Pan or Wok Toasting

  1. Heat a dry pan or wok over medium heat. Add thin slices of belachan and fry until they are brown and their pungent smell is released.

    Belacan (Dried Shrimp Paste) in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Check to see if they have been well cooked by taking a slice and breaking it in two. It should break like a crisp biscuit and the inside should be brown and dry and not soft.

    roasted Belacan (Dried Shrimp Paste) broken in half f

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Short Cut Restaurant Method for Roasting Belecan

As an alternative to dry toasting, you can fry belacan in oil. Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan over low heat. It may break up into small pieces as you fry it, and that is alright. Just be sure to cook it until well done and golden brown.