I adore fresh pineapple. I like cucumber as well. Adding something spicy to these basic ingredients seemed like a good idea. I generally like foods from South East Asia, well, all of Asia really. And although I hadn’t cooked with it, shrimp paste seemed like it should be somewhat like fish sauce which I know I’ve had.
I tracked some dried shrimp paste down at the store and noticed that it seemed to have a pungent scent. I brought it home and put it in the cupboard until I bought the other ingredients. The next few times I opened the cupboard, I noticed it had a VERY pungent scent and I hoped it wasn’t causing trouble with the other food. It was all I could smell every time I opened those doors. It wasn’t particularly a bad smell, sort of like fish bouillon.
So I got all my ingredients together and opened the shrimp paste. This was when real concern started. It was wrapped in four layers of paper and plastic. The two plastic layers were sealed. I began to ponder something that could that strongly through so much wrapping but carried on, there was salad to be made! I mixed the dressing together and set it aside and then processed the other ingredients. Not wanting to waste a whole pineapple on something I might not like I tried the dressing before adding it. Hmm, it seemed okay. It seemed like something I would eat so I poured it over the salad and set it to chill.
I didn’t actually eat the salad that night; I had made too much other food. But I noticed that my fridge smelled fishy the rest of the night. The next morning I opened the fridge and about chocked, it smelled like rotten fish. I quickly got what I was after and shut it. A little later and much less bleary eyed, I checked on the salad again. It stunk. It smelled like rotten fish. I put a little in a bowl, determined to see if the pineapple could be saved. Now, I’m a fan of food and I and most of my friends consider my palate to be pretty wide. I like frog legs, I’m a fan of haggis, I’ll try anything at least once and probably twice just to make sure I don’t like. I tried one piece of pineapple but when I gagged on the second piece I decided I had tried enough and threw the whole stinking thing out. It tasted exactly like it smelled, like rotten fish.
Anyone familiar with shrimp paste? Did I do something wrong here? I have a whole block of it left and I hate to throw food out so I would gladly take suggestions!
Adapted from Death Warmed Over by Lisa Rogak.
Spicy Pineapple Salad with Shrimp Paste Dressing
1 Tbsp. shrimp paste
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 cucumber, diced
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, combine the shrimp paste, crushed red pepper, sugar, salt, and vinegar and set aside.
Peel, core, and cut the pineapple into bite size pieces. Place the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the pineapple mixture with the shrimp paste dressing and toss well. Chill for several hours before serving.